5 Tips for Treating Shoulder Pain

by Christina Lasich, MD Health Professional


When icing your shoulder, especially an inflamed rotator cuff, place the hand of the same limb behind your back. This "back-pocket" position exposes the shoulder tendons which hide underneath the shoulder bone (the acromion) to the ice. The ice pack (like a sack of frozen peas) is positioned slightly forward near the collarbone. Leave the ice on the area for 15 to 20 minutes.


After icing an inflamed rotator cuff, find the most painful spot and rub it against the grain. This age-old technique is called cross-fiber friction massage. Try rubbing back and forth for one minute a few times per day to help eliminate swelling and scar tissue formation. This massage technique does not feel good, but icing the shoulder before and after helps to numb the area before applying the painful friction massage.


The biggest reason that shoulders develop so many problems is that these joints get out of balance. As the front (anterior) chest muscles like the pectoral muscles become shortened and stronger over time, the back (posterior) chest muscles like the rhomboids get weaker and stretched. By stretching the front muscles and strengthening the back muscles, the shoulder joint can be rebalanced.


Many folks have drooping shoulders. For some drooping shoulders cause problems like stretching the sensitive nerves in the area. By shrugging the shoulders before lifting, your protective muscles are engaged and minimizing the tension on the nerves. Eventually, a strengthening program for your trapezius muscle can help eliminate the drooping shoulders.


Such a hard working joint like the shoulder joint needs a rest once and a while. Using arm rests on a chair can help a great deal to ease the work load. Even putting your hands in the pockets of your jacket or pants relieves the weight of the arms off the shoulders. And in order to rest the rotator cuff, you should also keep your elbows at your sides.

Christina Lasich, MD
Meet Our Writer
Christina Lasich, MD

Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.