5 Tips to Relieve Shoulder Problems

Without the Use of Medication

Minor shoulder problems affect people of all ages. Shoulder problems can develop from everyday wear and tear, overuse, or from minor sports injuries.

Nagging shoulder aches can also be a result from surgical reconstruction or joint replacement procedures. As I discussed in an earlier blog post, 5 Ways to Reduce Knee Problems, the go to treatment following a joint injury is “RICE” – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

The shoulder is an especially complex joint, so be patient during your recovery. Even minor shoulder injuries may take up to 6 weeks or longer before all symptoms are gone. However, when a temporary shoulder problem becomes a chronic problem, your body is sending you an important message that shouldn’t be ignored.

In today’s blog post we explore 5 tips to reduce shoulder pain without medication or surgery.

relieve shoulder pain with ice1. Heat or Ice: Heat and ice or cold packs are useful for easing symptoms in sore shoulders. There are a lot of opinions over which is best. The goal of any program to improve shoulder health is to get the joint moving again.

Heat or ice begin this process by decreasing your symptoms enough to where you can tolerate stretching or exercise. So I say use the one that gives you the most relief. Many patients find massaging their shoulder with biofreeze, a non-pharmaceutical analgesic, to be very helpful. As a general rule however, heat is good for shoulder issues caused by chronic conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia while ice is better for acute conditions like sports injuries.

2. Wall Walks: Stand facing the wall. Keeping your shoulder relaxed, walk your fingers up to the highest point you can reach on the wall. Pause there for 5 seconds and walk your fingers back down. Repeat this 5-10 times in a session. Do 1 or 2 sessions a day. Put a piece of masking tape or a sticker at the highest point you can reach on the wall, try to get a little bit higher each day.

3. Pendulums: Lean on the edge of a table or a wall with your good arm, hang your painful arm down with your hand pointing at the floor and relax it. Rock your body back and forth so you relaxed arm swings like a pendulum. Your arm should be relaxed, not helping with the movement. Gently swing your arm forwards and backwards, side to side and small circles clockwise and counterclockwise. Do this for 20 repetitions in each direction then rest. Doing this exercise relaxes the muscles surrounding the joint and also improves fluid circulation within the joint giving you valuable pain relief.

4. Doorway Stretch: Stand in a doorway, put both arms in the high five position either side of the door frame, step gently into the doorway until you feel a stretch on the front of your shoulders. Stretch like this for about 30 seconds, try to relax your shoulders. Repeat this 3 or 4 times. If you can’t reach the doorframe on either side, stand in the corner of the room and use the walls to support your arms.

rollers help shoulder pain5. Noodle stretches: Do these two stretches daily to improve your shoulder flexibility: Find a pool noodle or get one at the store. With scissors or a knife, cut about 18 inches of noodle to use as a mini foam roll. Put the noodle on a the floor or a yoga mat, in a vertical position. Now lie on your back , on top of the noodle so it aligns with your spine between your shoulder blades, put both arms in the “high five” position, relax for 3 minutes. When 3 minutes is up, switch the noodle to a horizontal position, across your back around the bottom of your shoulder blades. High five position for 3 more minutes.

I hope you find some or all of these tips useful. If you injure your shoulder take a break from motions or activities that hurt. Apply ice immediately to minimize swelling. For the first 48 hours after an injury, avoid things that might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot tubs, hot packs, or drinking alcohol. After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, try the 5 tips to help restore and maintain your flexibility.

However, if your shoulder symptoms persist, you can talk to a Physical Therapist without a prescription. Contact us today to schedule your free Discovery Session at one of our clinics in Hammond LA or Madisonville LA.

About the Author

Paul Jones was born in Scotland and studied Physiotherapy at Teesside University in England before moving to the USA in 1990. He founded Jones Physical Therapy in 2005 and specializes in Outpatient Physical Therapy treatment of spinal and orthopedic problems.

Paul has been a regular contributor of articles to the Times Picayune and has served as a policy advisor to the Louisiana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners, He is currently the APTA delegate for the Northshore Chapter of the Louisiana Physical Therapy Association.


This information is designed to educational in nature about lifestyle strategies to improve musculoskeletal pain. It is not intended to diagnose or treat or cure any medical condition, disease, injury or illness. If you feel you have a condition that needs medical care you should seek help from a doctor or hospital.