Shoulder pain can be troublesome, to put it lightly. Your shoulder muscles engage nearly every time you move your arm — and when that area is stiff and achy, reaching a high shelf, making food, and even getting dressed can become a lot harder. So, what are the best home remedies for shoulder pain? How can you start feeling better and get back to your daily life?
In this post, learn about some common sources of pain in the shoulder, as well as four easy and effective home remedies you can try today.
Identifying the Source of Your Shoulder Pain
Shoulder pain often stems from inflammation in the rotator cuff, which is a bundle of tendons and muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. The causes of pain in this region can be minor, and in many cases, the culprit is simple overuse or bad posture.
But on rarer occasions, it can come from more serious underlying conditions, such as:
- Injuries, including sprains or shoulder dislocation
- Torn cartilage
- Frozen shoulder
With all of this in mind, it's best to check with your doctor to identify the cause of your shoulder pain, especially if it’s long-lasting or severe.
Try These 4 Powerful Home Remedies for Shoulder Pain Relief
Finding the right shoulder pain home remedies can help you boost your well-being, ease your discomfort, and get you moving normally again.
Here are four proven tips that can get you on the path to feeling better.
1. Heating Pads and Cold Packs
Heating pads are an excellent way to destress your tense muscles, and cold packs are great for easing inflammation.
You can usually find heating pads and ice packs at your local grocery store. But if you don’t have either on-hand (and you don’t want to take a trip to the store), you can:
- Make a DIY heating pad by warming up a damp towel or a sock full of rice.
- Make a gel ice pack by freezing a plastic baggie full of corn syrup. Alternatively, you can freeze a wet sponge or a mixture of salt and water in a Ziploc bag.
Apply your heating pad to the affected area for 10 to 30 minutes at a time. You can use ice or cold packs for around 15 minutes at a time, several times per day.
2. Gentle Shoulder Stretches
When your shoulder is too stiff or sore to move much, it’s best to focus on rest, recovery, and keeping it in a comfortable position.
But once your pain subsides a bit, movement can boost the healing process. Here’s one gentle stretch that might offer you some shoulder pain relief:
The Pendulum Stretch
The pendulum stretch is a gentle, easygoing movement that can loosen up the shoulder area.
- Stand parallel to a waist-high table, with your unaffected arm closest to it.
- Bend forward and place your hand on the table for support. Allow your injured-side arm to hang.
- Gently rock your body to loosen up your shoulder area. Your hanging arm should lightly sway as you do so. Be sure that your body is creating the movement here — using your arm muscles could make your shoulder tense up or feel more painful.
Here’s a quick tutorial for a visual demonstration.
3. Pain-Relief Gel and NSAIDs
Pain-relief gels like BioFreeze may help you ease some of the pain in your shoulder muscles. These types of gels often use wintergreen oil as an active ingredient, which can provide a soothing, cooling effect.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen may also help relieve some of the pain around your joints.
4. At-Home Massage Therapy
Massage can be a powerful home remedy for shoulder pain — especially when that pain stems from muscle tension. That’s because it can boost blood flow, facilitate healing, and break up the tightness around those muscles.
Start with a light self-massage on and around your shoulder. You can use your hands to knead the area gently, focusing on any sore spots within reach.
You can also ask a partner for help or try a medical home massager like the MedMassager MMB05 to make things easier. Massage away your shoulder pain with light-to-medium pressure for 5 to 10 minutes, a few times per day.
The Bottom Line on Shoulder Pain Home Remedies
Figuring out how to get rid of shoulder pain can be challenging — and in some cases, it just takes time.
But in the meantime, you can craft a routine full of home remedies that promote healing, circulation, and well-being in the affected area. Some of the best ones include:
- Heating pads and cold packs
- Pain-relief gels and OTC meds
- A gentle stretching and massage routine
Before You Get Started
Before trying any hands-on approach to shoulder pain — like stretching and massage — be sure to check with your healthcare provider. Shoulder pain isn’t often serious, but it can sometimes result from an underlying condition or more severe injury that can worsen with massage.
Once you get the green light, you can start a self-massage and stretching routine, along with using other remedies to manage pain as needed.