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Treatment for Shoulder Joint Pain: Conservative, Medications, PT, Surgery

Conservative Treatment For Shoulder Joint Pain

Treatment for Shoulder Joint Pain: Conservative, Medications, PT, Surgery


Shoulder joint rest is achieved by using arm sling or shoulder braces. Rest prevents shoulder joint movements and thus prevents initiation of pain. Rest is advised until inflammation is healed in almost all diseases causing shoulder joint pain.

Cold Compression Therapy

Cold compression therapy is provided by applying ice bag over shoulder joint. Ice prevents joint swelling and bleeding. Ice almost reduces pain.

Heat Compression Therapy

Heat therapy helps to improve blood circulation and is avoided if shoulder joint bleeding is associated with pain. Heat treatment is helpful to treat pain caused by joint sprain or arthritis. Heat therapy is also advised for pain observed following surgery.

RICE Therapy

RICE therapy is a combination therapy, which includes rest, ice, compression and elevation of the joint (RICE- Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation).

Conservative Treatment For Shoulder Joint Pain Is Indicated For Following Diseases-

  • Tendonitis
  • Shoulder Joint Sprain
  • Shoulder Joint Arthritis
  • Following Close Reduction
  • Following Surgery

Medications Prescribed For Shoulder Joint Pain

NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications) For Shoulder Joint Pain:

Indications for anti-inflammatory medication are inflammatory diseases and chronic shoulder pain caused by inflammation.

Following Inflammatory Diseases Can Cause Shoulder Joint Pain:

Opioids For Shoulder Joint Pain:

Opioids are also known narcotics. Opioids are prescribed for chronic shoulder joint pain of all type including nociceptive and neuropathic pain.

Short acting opioids are prescribed for mild to moderate shoulder pain or breakthrough severe pain of shoulder joint.

Following opioids are most commonly prescribed for chronic shoulder pain.

  • Short Acting Opioids For Shoulder Joint Pain-
    1. Hydrocodone- Vicodin, Lortab and Norco
    2. Oxycodone- Oxy IR and Percocet
    3. Morphine- MS IR and Morphine Sulphate
  • Long Acting Opioids For Shoulder Joint Pain-
    1. Oxycodone- Oxycontin
    2. Morphine- MS Contin
    3. Methadone
    4. Fentanyl Patch

Antiepileptic Analgesics For Shoulder Joint Pain

Neuropathic pain resistant to NSAIDs or opioids are often treated with antiepileptic analgesics such as Lyrica and Neurontin.

Antidepressant analgesics For Shoulder Joint Pain

Antidepressants are used to treat neuropathic pain. Anti-depressants prescribed for neuropathic pain are Elavil and Lyrica.

Physical Therapy (PT) To Treat Shoulder Joint Pain

Indications For Physical Therapy (PT) Is As Follows-

  • Strengthening of Shoulder Muscles
  • Improve Flexibility of the Shoulder.

Physical Therapy Is Advised For Following Diseases Causing Shoulder Pain-

Interventional Therapy

Corticosteroid Injection of Shoulder Joint-

Procedure is performed under local anesthesia. Following shoulder joint diseases are treated with corticosteroid injections-

  • Shoulder Joint Tendonitis.
  • Shoulder Joint Bursitis.
  • Shoulder Joint Arthritis.

Nerve Block-

Severe pain is occasionally treated with brachial plexus block. Following diseases of the shoulder joint are treated with brachial plexus block.

  • Neuropathic Pain Caused By Surgery
  • Pain Associated With Tingling, Numbness And Weakness In Shoulder Joint
  • Shoulder Joint Stiffness

Cervical Epidural Injection

Diagnostic and therapeutic cervical epidural steroid injection is performed to treat chronic shoulder joint pain caused by pinch nerve in the cervical dermatome.

Surgery To Treat Shoulder Joint Pain

Shoulder Joint Arthroscopy

Joint Arthroscopy

Surgery is performed under local or general anesthesia. Arthroscope (endoscope) is inserted into shoulder joint and shoulder joint examination is performed under direct vision using camera of the arthroscope.

Following Diseases Are Treated With Arthroscopy-

  • Removal of loose cartilages causing pain in osteoarthritis.
  • Removal of inflammatory soft tissue in patients suffering with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Repair of tendon or ligamental tear.
  • Removal of disease and worn out cartilage fragments.

Close Shoulder Joint Reduction

Procedure is performed under deep sedation or general anesthesia. Indication for close shoulder reduction-

Open Shoulder Joint Reduction

Indication For Close Shoulder Reduction-

  • Shoulder Joint Subluxation
  • Shoulder Joint Dislocation
  • Shoulder Joint Fracture

Tendon Repair

  • Complete tear of tendon is repaired by open surgery.
  • Partial tear of tendon is repaired following arthroscopy or open surgery.

Rotator Cuff Repair

  • Rotator cuff tear is repaired following arthroscopy.
  • Rotator cuff tear surgery if fails to relieve pain following arthroscopy surgery then repair is performed with open surgery.
  • Rotator cuff tear associated with dislocation or fracture of shoulder joint is treated with open surgery.

Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty 2

This is a recent advanced surgery mostly performed for rotator cuff pain. Surgery improves the mobility and decreases pain.

Also Read:


  1. The effectiveness of physiotherapeutic interventions in treatment of frozen shoulder/adhesive capsulitis: A systematic review.

    Jain TK, Sharma NK.

    J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2013 Nov 27.

    Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA.

  2. Reverse shoulder arthroplasty.

    Jarrett CD, Brown BT, Schmidt CC.

    Orthop Clin North Am. 2013 Jul;44(3):389-408, x. doi: 10.1016/j.ocl.2013.03.010.

    Upper Extremity Reconstructive Surgery, The Emory Orthopaedic Center, Emory University School of Medicine, 59 Executive Park South, Suite 2000, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 29, 2018

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