6 Home Remedies for Shoulder Pain

6 Home Remedies for Shoulder Pain

The quick answer on how to get rid of shoulder pain is to do these 6 home remedies:

  1. Anti-inflammatory Medications if you are able to take these medications
  2. Heat with a heating pad or hot pack.  Always have a layer in-between the pad and your skin.
  3. Ice for 15 to 20 minutes
  4. Salt Bathing is shown to help decrease swelling and pain
  5. Stretching within the limits of your pain and postural awareness. 
  6. Massage of the injured area can help reduce spasms and pain. 

Shoulder pain can have many causes. They are common from daily activities in everyday life. A pulled muscle in the shoulder can cause shoulder pain. Reaching overhead, lifting a suitcase, and putting on a seatbelt are all activities that may cause discomfort if you have suffered a shoulder injury. 

What are Common Causes of Shoulder Pain?

The most common causes of shoulder pain are Rotator Cuff issues. A rotator cuff is a muscle group that helps to hold the ball and socket shoulder joint together.  They also help control the movements in the shoulder. The small rotator cuff muscles can become irritated.  This can produce tendonitis.  

Anatomical image of a man with shoulder pain. JOI RehabShoulder Pain

What are the 6 Home Remedies for Shoulder Pain?

1. Over the counter Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory medications or NSAIDs

There are two major generic types of NSAIDs: Ibuprofen and Naproxen. Brand names include Advil (for Ibuprofen) and Aleve (for naproxen). Use only if approved by your physician and be careful for using these products on a daily basis.  There are several drug interactions and contraindications related to NSAIDs. 

2. Apply Heat To Your Shoulder. 

Heat can be a great home remedy.  The most common source of heat at home is heating pad.  If using the electric heating pad, set on medium heat, not high heat level.  Always check your skin to make to avoid burning your skin. Be careful not to fall asleep with a heating pad on. 

 There are also moist heating pads you can get at home.  There are moist pads you can put in the microwave or “rice bags” work well at home.  Again, check your skin to make sure the heat is not causing a burn. 

Be careful not to apply heat to an acute or recent injury. Check out this article to understand the difference between heat and ice

 3. Apply Ice To Your shoulder

Ice is also a good option for an acute shoulder injury or for the reduction of pain. Placing a cold pack inside a pillowcase for 10-15 minutes can certainly help your shoulder. Ice massage is also an option. Ice should not be left in direct contact with the skin for over 5 minutes due to the possibility of frostbite.  You should always have a layer such as a pillow case in-between your skin and the ice pack. 

Woman in white shirt icing her shoulder due to shoulder pain. JOI RehabIcing the shoulder is an effective remedy for shoulder pain.

4. Stretching

Stretching the muscles that encompass the shoulder joint can help with your pain. Muscles capable of moving freely through your shoulder's natural motion will not have the constant stress that tight muscles experience.  Flexibility can also be important to prevent further injuries. 

5. Analgesic Creams, Patches & Voltaren Gel

There are several different types of analgesic creams on the market which can help relieve pain.  Flex-all, Biofreeze and Icyhot are just a few.

Salonpas is another option for a pain relieving patch and there are also analgesic patches as well.

Voltaren Gel has become a very popular choice for an anti-inflammatory gel.  

Before using any of these options, please consult with your physician.  It is also important to read the warnings and side effects on these products. 

6. Massage and Massage Guns

Get a family member to knead your sore muscles.  If you are very independent, find a sock and a tennis ball. Put a tennis ball inside a sock. Place the sock and ball at the back of your shoulder where it is sore. Now, against a wall, apply pressure to the tennis ball, and roll around, thus giving yourself a massage. If that doesn't prove effective, you can look into visiting a massage therapist. 

Another popular option is a massage gun.  Please be careful on using this tool on boney areas and superficial nerves. 

Natural Cures of Inflammation

You can reduce inflammation in your body naturally through your diet. Some foods that naturally reduce inflammation are:

  • Olive Oil
  • Fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and tuna
  • Tomatoes
  • Fruits like blueberries, strawberries, oranges, and cherries
  • Nuts, like walnuts and almonds
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and collards
  • Celery juice or beet juice
  • Herbs and spices such as ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, and turmeric

Adding these whole foods to your diet and cutting out processed foods will reduce inflammation in your body. Having a healthy balanced diet of whole foods, fats, carbs, and protein will boost your body's healing process.

You should limit your use of alcohol, sodas, and caffeine in excess of 2 cups per day.  Eliminate smoking and other tobacco products in your life.  Get plenty of rest and ease into an exercise routine that you enjoy.  Healthy habits such as walking, yoga, and Pilates are appropriate for all levels of stamina.

Essential oils can also be used for pain, tension and swelling. Essential oils are derived from therapeutic plants that have natural anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Peppermint oil
  • Marjoram oil
  • Lavender oil

Physical Therapy for Shoulder Pain

physical therapy may be a good option for pulled muscle in shoulder.Physical Therapy can Help with Shoulder Pain.

Quick Relief From Shoulder Pain

If home remedies do not help, physical therapy is the next option. In physical therapy, our goal is to get you quick relief from your shoulder pain.  Therapists concentrate on the flexibility of the shoulder and implement new exercises to improve mobility. There are multiple hands-on techniques to better the mobility of the joints to treat shoulder pain. In some cases, patients will undergo strength training as a way to treat their shoulder pain. Lastly, electrical modalities such as ultrasound, laser, and E-Stim (electric stimulation) may be used to remedy the pain. 

Other options to try in coordination with physical therapy are Medical Massage Therapy and Dry Needling.

To learn why Shoulder Pain Can't Wait watch this video from The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute.

By: Ehren Allen, PT

Also if you have recently had a shoulder surgery watch our video on How to Properly Put on an UltraSling 4 or Dressing the Upper Body After an Injury or Surgery

Related Shoulder Articles: 

Shoulder Pain Specialist - Jacksonville

If you have shoulder pain, the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute has the answers!  JOI offers the area’s top orthopaedic shoulder specialists, and they are ready to help you. Our treatment options are physical therapy and sports medicine. In addition to, the most advanced surgical treatment interventions.  Let JOI get you on the road to recovery!

Book an Appointment with The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Today!

JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

 New: You can now make follow-up and cancel physician appointments through the JOI Patient Portal. 

You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments if that is your preference.

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