Pain relief: Simple painkillers (like paracetamol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDS, (like ibuprofen) are available over the counter and can be very effective but don’t use them for more than 2 weeks without seeking medical advice. You should carefully read the Patient Information Leaflet that is provided with this medication.
It is advisable to consult your GP or pharmacist before taking additional pain relief if you are currently:
Ice or heat: If your shoulder is painful then applying an ice pack, hot water bottle or gels may be helpful for reducing pain. A packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel works well as an ice pack. Leave the peas in place for up to 20 minutes at a time. This can be repeated several times a day. If using gels then check with your GP or Pharmacist if you have other health conditions/medications which may prevent this.
Reducing the strain on your shoulders: It is usually best to carry out your normal activities, but try not to overdo it. You need to pace yourself to start with and try to do a bit more each day. During tasks where you need to lift your arm up over your head, keeping your arm bent until your elbow is above shoulder height will reduce the strain going through the shoulder joint.
Rest: Aim for a balance between rest and exercise to prevent your shoulder from stiffening up. Try to avoid the movements that are most painful, especially those that hold your arm away from your body and above shoulder height. However, it’s important to remain generally active even if you have to limit how much you do.
Exercise: Exercise is often a helpful treatment for shoulder pain and will give the joint strength and flexibility. Below are a few exercises to try for your shoulder. They should not aggravate your pain whilst you perform them, if they do, do not push through the pain.
A little post exercise discomfort is not uncommon and not a sign of damage. If you experience pain that regularly lasts for more than 30 minutes after exercise and feel that overall your pain is worsening please stop all exercises and seek advice from the physiotherapy department.
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GP Debenham Group Practice, IES CCG Prescribing and Diagnostics Lead
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