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Last Updated: Jul 10, 2020
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Shoulder Pain: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

About Causes Diagnosis Treatment Medicine How to relieve shoulder pain? Side effects Post-treatment guidelines Prevention Recovery Cost Results Tips

Why do shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain is usually characterized by a persistent dull and nagging painful sensation that may arise from the shoulder joint itself or from other muscles, ligaments and/or tendon that surrounds the shoulder area. Shoulder pain arising from the shoulder joint itself generally worsens with the movement of the shoulder or upper arm of the person having this symptom.

What causes shoulder pain?

There are various causes for shoulder pain and the reason may vary from person to person depending upon the physical activities that he/she is involved in. The causes of shoulder pain may be direct as well as indirect. Various diseases and other conditions such as heart problems or gallbladder diseases may indirectly lead to shoulder pain and such a condition is known as referred pain.

Referred shoulder pain generally does not cause much problem during the movement of patient shoulder. On the other hand, direct causes of shoulder pain may be due to one or more major or minor injuries in the shoulder area. Moreover, due to aging, various degenerative changes in different parts of the shoulder can result in shoulder pain.

Some of the major causes that can result in shoulder pain are:

How to diagnose shoulder pain?

The first step towards the treatment of shoulder pain involves thorough analysis of the patient’s medical history followed by a number of clinical diagnoses which involves imaging study by:

How to treat shoulder pain?

Once the cause of shoulder pain is found out by various clinical diagnoses, the treatment for this condition is initiated under the guidance of an experienced doctor. The treatment for shoulder pain involves various pain relief medications and physiotherapy. The doctor might recommend taking rest and avoiding any strenuous physical activity that involves movement of the shoulder in order to prevent any further injury.

In addition to this, a few exercises may help the patients by improving their shoulder flexibility and mobility. Injecting cortisone into the affected area can help to reduce the inflammation. Applying hot and cold packs on the affected area gives temporary relief from pain. In some cases, the doctor may advise for surgical treatment if the medical treatment for this condition is found to fail.

It must be kept in mind that the treatment for shoulder pain varies from person to person depending on the degree of injury or the cause of the pain. Surgical treatment for this condition is not the first option, and hence this treatment is used only if all other medical treatments for this condition fail.

In the case of patients, suffering from shoulder pain due to arthritis or osteoarthritis, the treatment is slightly different. For such patients, shoulder pain arises due to a damaged shoulder joint. Surgical methods of treatment such as realignment bone surgery and joint replacement surgery are the two best methods that have been proved beneficial for treating such patients. After surgery, the patients are recommended to have rest until the condition heals.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

There is no age restriction as far as the treatment for shoulder pain is concerned. Patients of any age who are having a persistent dull and nagging painful sensation in their shoulder area are eligible for this treatment. It is always recommendable for such patients to go for home remedies initially. If such home remedial methods fail to give fruitful results, then the patients can seek medical help from an experienced doctor.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

There is no eligibility criteria as such for patients to seek treatment for shoulder pain. Anybody who does not have shoulder pain is not eligible for the treatment of shoulder pain. It should be remembered that shoulder pain may arise both due to injury in the shoulder area as well as a few indirect causes and such a condition is known as 'Referred pain'.

Hence, a proper diagnosis is necessary for an appropriate treatment to begin. Patients having referred pain should be given treatment for the underlying cause that has led to shoulder pain. Such patients of referred shoulder pain are not eligible for treatment of shoulder pain but instead they need to be treated for the underlying cause of the pain.

What is the best painkiller for shoulder pain?

There are several OTC painkillers that can be used to get relief from shoulder pain. Medicines such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen may be prescribed for controlling the pain.

How to relieve shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain is a common joint condition that can affect anyone. The condition can result from daily activities and may involve muscles, tissues, shoulder blade, and nerves. The pain can be mild or excruciating depending on the severity of the underlying damage.

There are a few measures that you can follow at home to relieve shoulder pain:

  • Pain Relief Medication: You can ask your physician to prescribe over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen to get relief from shoulder pain.
  • Apply Heat: Taking a hot shower or applying a hot compress on the affected region of the shoulder can ease the pain.
  • Apply cold compression: A cold compress can reduce pain and prevent swelling in the shoulder region. However, ensure that you wrap the cold pack in a towel or a soft cloth before applying on the shoulder.
  • Epsom salt bath: Bathing with warm water mixed with Epsom salt can also soothe the shoulder pain.
  • Massage the affected region gently: Gently massaging or kneading the affected area of the shoulder is an effective way of easing the shoulder pain.

Are there any side effects?

The treatment for shoulder pain is more or less safe. However, the anti-inflammatory pain killers prescribed during this treatment may bear some side effects. The common side effects include nausea, vomiting, constipation, bleeding in stomach (ulcers), headache and indigestion. The side effect of stomach upset can be reduced by taking the medicines after meal.

On the other hand, cortisone pills used to treat problems of shoulder pain, have side effects such as weight gain, elevated blood sugar levels, osteoporosis, elevated blood pressure, thinning of skin, cataracts and decreased resistance against infections. It is important to consult a doctor if any of these side effects become serious enough.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

It should be remembered that shoulder pain may be due to both direct and indirect causes (also known as referred pain). In case of referred pain, the underlying cause needs to be treated. The post treatment guidelines for shoulder pain include:

  • Giving rest to the affected shoulder
  • Applying hot and cold packs to the affected area for temporary relief
  • Avoiding strenuous activities that may cause further injury
  • Taking the prescribed medicines regularly on time
  • Physiotherapy
  • Practising exercises that helps in improving shoulder mobility and flexibility
  • Using braces
  • Slings and supports that helps in keeping the shoulder in position and facilitates faster recovery.

How to prevent shoulder pain?

Practising simple shoulder exercises can help prevent injury in the shoulder region. The exercises help stretch and strengthen the muscles. Similarly, performing simple range-of-motion exercises every day can help you prevent a frozen shoulder.

A physiotherapist can help you with these exercises. People who have has shoulder injury before should apply a cold pack after exercising for at least 15 minutes to prevent injuries in the future.

How long does it take to recover?

The time taken for a patient of shoulder pain to recover depends upon the degree of injury received. For minor injuries like strain or sprain, it takes about a week’s time for the pain to recover.

Shoulder pain resulting from serious issues such as fractures, rotator cuff tear, dislocation and others may require surgical treatment and may take a few months to recover. It is important to consult a doctor if the pain persists or increases even after the treatment.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The price of treatment for shoulder pain varies in different parts of India. The average cost of consulting a doctor regarding such issue may range from Rs. 400 to Rs. 700 (per consultation). The costs of medical as well as surgical treatments are additional. In general, the average cost of full treatment for shoulder pain may range from Rs. 4,400 to Rs. 6,500 in India. This treatment is available in almost all cities and towns of India.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Before the treatment for shoulder pain is initiated, it is important that the cause of the pain is properly diagnosed. For some issues of shoulder pain, they can be treated by mere home remedies and rest. However, for others if such home treatments fail to give effective results then the doctor switches to medical and/or surgical treatments if necessary.

Surgical treatment is considered as the ultimate and best treatment for problems of shoulder pain. The permanence of the treatment of shoulder pain depends upon the degree of injury encountered by the patient. If in case no improvements are seen from home remedies or medical treatment, only then the doctor recommends for surgical treatment.

How to help shoulder pain?

There are certain measures that you consider to help ease your shoulder pain:

  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Opt for heat or cold therapy
  • Correct posture
  • Limit pressure on the affected shoulder joint
  • Take rest
  • Perform a few simple range-of-motion exercises
  • Consider complementary treatments like acupuncture

Popular Questions & Answers

Hello doc, I have hump in c7, t1,t2 like sticking forward, my neck has good curve but my upper thoracic I mean t1, t2 vertebrae sticking out and rounding, from these I have pain in my shoulder blade and upper chest, so what exercises should I do to make norma t1, t2 curve.

DNB (Orthopedics), Diploma In Orthopaedics (D. Ortho), Fellowship in Shoulder and Sports injuries, MBBS
Orthopedic Doctor, Bhopal
Require some workup as x ray of your spine and blood test (cbc, esr, vit d) to rule out spine deformity/ any vitamin deficiency.
1 person found this helpful

I have a pain in my left arm from shoulder to till end, from 6p. M. Today, no sweating, breathing is also normal, I had tried again, digestive churna, taken disprin also but no relief, please help me to tell what it is, and what to do to relief from pain.

MS - Orthopaedics
Orthopedic Doctor, Vadodara
I think in such scenario, first thing first get an electrocardiogram done for your heart. If everything goes well then you might be having nerve pain that usually in most cases gets relieved with medications.

Used volini spray in shoulder pain and immediately got rashes in the area and itching seriously. Needed medical assistance.

General Physician, Bangalore
1.apply caldryl lotion on the saide after washing and drying the skin. 2. Use 10 mg cetrizine tablet once at night for 5 days. 3.discontinue volini spray ,you might be allergic to it.
1 person found this helpful

My father 57 years old has diabetes n currently on medicine glimepiride 2 mg+ metformin 500 mg (mrng & evening, as far as sugar level is concerned it is under control 130 .but he has shoulder pain & palm joint pain he can't move it much. Some highlighted tests hdl cholesterol 36.06 ldl direct 163.78 ldl cal 150 ratio 4.54 uric acid 8.05 b12- 181 hto 14.50 what is your take on current medicine n what about shoulder pain? We consulted orthopedist but nothing found.

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Orthopedic Doctor, Vadodara
A diabetic patient is prone to develop a condition called frozen shoulder/adhesive capsulitis. Although present blood sugar is under control, hb1ac would give you mean sugar levels in blood. This dictates if diabetes can cause other damage to body...

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