Non-Surgical Management of Shoulder Pain - Dr. Kevin Kruse

Non-Surgical Management of Shoulder Pain


Shoulder pain can be more than just a minor inconvenience; it often disrupts daily activities and diminishes quality of life. Fortunately, invasive procedures are not always necessary. Here, we explore non-surgical strategies like physical therapy, NSAIDs, and other conservative measures, proven to alleviate common shoulder conditions effectively.

Understanding Shoulder Pain

Before diving into treatment options, it’s crucial to understand what causes shoulder pain. It can stem from various issues, including tendon inflammation (tendinitis), tendon tears, impingement, and arthritis. Symptoms typically involve discomfort, reduced mobility, and a persistent ache that makes arm movements challenging.

The Role of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy stands as a cornerstone in managing shoulder pain, aiming to restore function and mobility while reducing pain. A physical therapist will assess your condition and tailor a program specific to your needs. This may include:

  • Strengthening Exercises: Enhance the muscles around the shoulder to provide better support.
  • Stretching Routines: Improve range of motion and flexibility.
  • Pain Relief Techniques: Such as heat or ice applications and ultrasound therapy.
  • Manual Therapies: Such as massage or dry needling for muscle tension relief.

The Impact of NSAIDs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often recommended to manage pain and reduce inflammation. These medications, like ibuprofen and aspirin, can be effective for short-term relief. However, they should be used cautiously due to potential side effects, especially with long-term use.

Other Conservative Measures

Several additional strategies can help manage shoulder pain without surgery:

  • Activity Modification: Avoid movements that exacerbate pain.
  • Ergonomic Adjustments: Set up your workspace to avoid strain.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: These can offer temporary relief for severe pain.

Lifestyle Adjustments and Home Remedies

Simple home remedies and lifestyle changes can also play a significant role in managing shoulder pain:

  • Regular Exercise: Maintaining overall physical health can help prevent further shoulder issues.
  • Proper Posture: Reducing strain on the shoulder during daily activities.
  • Adequate Rest: Allowing the shoulder time to heal naturally.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How long should I try non-surgical methods before considering other options?
A: Typically, it’s advisable to try non-surgical methods for at least six weeks. However, if pain persists or worsens, consult your healthcare provider.

Q: Are there any side effects to physical therapy?
A: Some soreness after exercises is normal, but severe pain should be reported to your therapist.

Q: Can NSAIDs be taken long-term for shoulder pain?
A: NSAIDs should be used for the shortest duration possible to avoid side effects. Always discuss long-term use with your doctor.

Q: What are some signs that I might need more invasive treatments?
A: Increasing pain, decreased mobility, or symptoms that interfere with daily life are signs to seek further medical evaluation.

Q: Are corticosteroid injections safe?
A: They are generally safe but should be administered by a healthcare professional, as frequent use can lead to joint damage.


Non-surgical treatments for shoulder pain, including physical therapy, NSAIDs, and lifestyle adjustments, offer effective relief without the risks associated with surgery. By understanding your body’s needs and incorporating these measures, you can regain comfort and function in your shoulder.

Additional Reading

For more information on managing shoulder pain, consider consulting the following resources:

  1. American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) – Offers resources on the benefits of physical therapy.
  2. Arthritis Foundation – Provides tips on managing chronic pain through conservative measures.

Taking a proactive approach to shoulder pain using these non-invasive techniques can significantly improve your life quality, ensuring that everyday tasks remain manageable and pain-free.


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