Shoulder Pain Treatment For Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis of the shoulder can be caused by an injury and advancing age. Symptoms typically include pain when moving the shoulder, decreased range of motion, morning stiffness of the shoulder joint, and creaking or cracking sounds of the shoulder upon movement. The area may be swollen and red, and the skin surrounding the shoulder joint may be warm to the touch. Because osteoarthritis of the shoulder can mimic other health conditions, your healthcare provider will need to perform a comprehensive examination which may include diagnostic imaging testing to confirm the diagnosis. Here are some shoulder pain treatment options that may be effective in managing the symptoms of your shoulder osteoarthritis. 

Choosing The Right Pain Medication

Over-the-counter (OTC0 pain medications are typically effective in managing mild to moderate osteoarthritis pain. Common OTC pain medications include ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen sodium, and acetaminophen. All of these medications with the exception of acetaminophen are known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

For many people, NSAIDs are the medication of choice for relieving osteoarthritis symptoms because, in addition to relieving pain, they also reduce the inflammation that is characteristic of arthritic conditions. Conversely, acetaminophen is not an anti-inflammatory drug, and consequently, does little to relieve swelling. However, it can be a viable shoulder pain treatment option if NSAIDs upset your stomach or if you are otherwise unable to take it.

Ice, Heat, And Physical Therapy

Shoulder osteoarthritis that is accompanied by swelling around the joint can be managed by icing the affected area a few times a day. Ice helps decrease inflammation while relieving pain. It is important to note, that while ice is effective for treating swelling and pain related to shoulder osteoarthritis, heat therapy may be especially soothing and may be more effective in enhancing range of motion and flexibility and relieving shoulder stiffness when you wake up in the morning.

Your healthcare provider may recommend physical therapy for your osteoarthritis because it helps promote effective circulation, strengthens the surrounding structures of the shoulder joint, and may help prevent the progression of your osteoarthritis. To augment the beneficial effects of your physical therapy, your therapist may recommend at-home exercises that you can do in between your physical therapy sessions.

If you have any signs or symptoms of shoulder osteoarthritis, see your healthcare provider for a checkup. Once your diagnosis has been confirmed, they will create a shoulder pain treatment plan so that you can perform your activities of daily living more comfortably.