Managing Symptoms of Shoulder Pain


A balance between rest and activity is important to maintain good shoulder mobility and prevent painful stiffness through disuse. Avoid movements that cause pain which experience suggest occurs with overhead movements, reaching away from the body and lifting. Continue to move the problem shoulder into ranges that have little or tolerable pain, assisting the injured shoulder with the pain-free arm is also helpful. As pain levels improve try to move the shoulder further until back to normal.

Hot or Cold Therapy

A hot water bottle, microwaved wheat bag or reusable heat pads can be helpful in soothing sore muscles applied for 20mins every hour or so. Frozen peas or a bag of ice equally are effective in soothing sore shoulders and reducing inflammation. Ensure a towel or cloth is placed between your skin and the hot or cold treatment to avoid burns.

Analgesia (Pain Relief)

Simple analgesia, such as paracetamol could be used immediately to help with any ongoing ache, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen from 72 hours after injury can be taken helpful. Discuss with your pharmacist the best combination and alternatives if pain remains intrusive.


Some postures will promote shoulder pain and can be avoided.
Avoid leaning forwards onto your arms when sitting
Alternate postural positions regularly (the best posture is the next posture!)
Sit in an upright position with relaxed shoulders. If it is comfortable to do so allow your arm to hang by your side rather than holding onto them tightly.
Rest the arm of the injured shoulder on pillows placed on your lap or the arm of a chair. When walking the shoulder may be more comfortable if supported across the body either tucked into a pocket or with a sling.
Work on relaxing shoulder blades and neck muscles to prevent secondary soreness. Practise pulling your shoulder blades back and down towards each other.

If lying down to sleep is a problem you may like to try:

  • Lying on your back with the arm supported by the side on pillows
  • Lying semi seated with the arm resting on pillows across your lap
  • Lying on your good side with the injured arm supported on a pillows

When to Seek Professional Help

Unless you have had an accident or known cause for the shoulder problem you are good to try a course of self-management for a couple of weeks. At this time if symptoms are no better you are advised to speak with your doctor or better still, make an appointment to see one of the Fay Pedler physiotherapists who will provide you with a diagnosis and treatment plan within an hour of you meeting.

A small amount of the treatments available are:

  • Shoulder joint mobilisations including scapula and spine
  • Soft tissue massage and trigger point release
  • Individual tailored exercise programme
  • Acupuncture
  • Shockwave Therapy
  • Taping
  • Education
  • Postural correction

If together we feel that your shoulder symptoms require further investigations or the skills of an orthopaedic surgeon we will (with your consent) request your GP initiates the appropriate referrals to the NHS or private providers.

Book your appointment today to see one of our specialists at the Fay Pedler Clinic.