Shoulder pain can occur for a variety of reasons. These can include health issues such as arthritis or inflammation, or because of injury or conditions such as frozen shoulder or rotator cuff problems.

Because the shoulder joint moves so much and has such a range of motion, pain in the joint can be a problem in the workplace as well as in every day activities. Shoulder pain can also result in problems with sleeping, which will impact overall health.

It is difficult to treat shoulder pain without understanding the underlying cause of the pain and discomfort. Seeing an orthopaedic specialist will allow for a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan to address the problem. In the meantime, to alleviate pain prior to your appointment, you can try the following.

Ice or Heat

Putting ice on the shoulder joint can help to reduce the swelling and inflammation contributing to the pain. You can use ice cubes in a zip lock bag wrapped in a towel to apply the cold directly to the shoulder. There are also commercially available wraps and compresses, which can be frozen and used again and again. Keep the ice on for about 15 minutes, then remove and repeat one or two times as needed.

Heat in the form of warm compresses, or the commercially available hot packs, can be used to treat chronic shoulder pains such as arthritis. Heat increases blood flow, which assists in helping long term injuries but can contribute to the swelling in acute pain and injuries.


Our doctors may prescribe medication to help with inflammation and pain management. However, many of our patients find that over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be very helpful to relieve pain temporarily.

Avoid using these medications on an ongoing basis and never exceed the recommended dosage. Often, when used in conjunction with ice, they can be very effective for short-term management of mild to moderate shoulder pain.

Limit Movement

Resting the shoulder is hard to do, but it is important when there is pain limiting the movement of the joint causing the pain. You can temporarily make a sling out of a long scarf or any fabric to safely secure your arm and shoulder.

Too much restriction of movement can actually create more problems, so it is essential to get into see one of our doctors as soon as possible. We will also provide specific information on the phone prior to your appointment if you have any questions about the pain you are experiencing.