Treat Shoulder Tendonitis

Shoulder tendonitis is painful, frustrating, and interferes with basic daily activities. Fortunately, there ways to manage it. Since it’s caused by repetitive motions, try to keep your shoulder still. To relieve pain and inflammation, apply ice and take over-the-counter medication. Stretching can help improve mobility, but you should consult your doctor first to prevent further injury. If your pain persists or worsens, ask your doctor about seeing a physical therapist, getting a cortisone shot, and other treatment options.

Avoid using your shoulder as much as possible. Avoid doing any activities that aggravate your shoulder for a few days, but don’t avoid using your shoulder for too long. Contact your doctor if you are still having trouble moving your shoulder without pain after a few days. If you have to use the affected arm in the first few days, try to keep your shoulder still and restrict movements to your elbow. Do your best to keep objects close by and at lower heights so you don’t have to reach up to grab them.

  • For instance, if you have to use a fork with the affected arm, bend your elbow to bring the utensil to your mouth. Try not to raise or rotate your shoulder as you move your forearm.
  • Don’t lift heavy objects, use the affected arm to bring your phone to your ear, or do any other activities that involve moving your sore shoulder.
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    Apply ice for 20 minutes 3 to 4 times a day. Ice your shoulder in regular intervals and after activities that aggravate your pain. Wrap ice or an ice pack in a clean towel instead of applying it directly to your skin. Continue icing several times a day until your pain improves.
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    Take hot showers to relieve stiffness. Heat increases blood flow and might help you feel more comfortable. You can also try applying a warm compress or heating pad for 15 minutes 2 or 3 times per day.

    • Ice is typically best for the first 3 days, since it helps keep swelling in check. Heat can worsen inflammation, but it relaxes muscles and promotes healing. Some people respond better to one or the other, so go with the option that provides the most relief.

      Maintain good posture when standing, sitting, and sleeping. Try to keep your shoulders, head, neck, and back in proper alignment at all times. When you sit and stand, avoid slouching and hold your head up straight. Do your best to sleep on the unaffected side or on your back.

      • Poor posture and sleeping on your bad shoulder can push the joint out of alignment and aggravate your irritated tendons.
      • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. An NSAID pain reliever, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help manage pain and inflammation. Take your medication according to the label’s instructions or ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a dosage.

        • Tell your doctor if you take an NSAID daily for more than a few days. Relying on pain relievers could be a sign you need other treatment options, like an immobilizing brace, cortisone shot, or physical therapist.
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