The three bones the humerus the clavicle and the scapula. The shoulder allows itself to have lots of movement at the same time as being very strong and robust. It is very good at doing the things it designed to do such as pushing, pulling and lifting. Shoulder complaints are very common and can be concerning if they are very painful. However, a shoulder complaint is rarely due to anything serious. Most shoulder complaints will improve with time and some simple steps to help yourself. At times it might not feel that your shoulder can get better but very few people need any extra care than the steps below.

If you have had trauma to your shoulder then please SELF REFER to be assessed.

What can I do to help?

Pain relief: Simple painkillers (like paracetamol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDS, (like ibuprofen) are available over the counter and can be very effective but don’t use them for more than 2 weeks without seeking medical advice. You should carefully read the Patient Information Leaflet that is provided with this medication.

It is advisable to consult your GP or pharmacist before taking additional pain relief if you are currently:

  • taking any form of medication
  • have any other pre-existing medical conditions
  • pregnant

Ice: Applying an ice pack can be really helpful in reducing the pain you have in your shoulder. A packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel works well as an ice pack. Leave the peas in place for 20 minutes at a time. This can be repeated after a 2 hour gap to provide further relief.

Reducing the strain on your shoulders: It is usually best to carry out your normal activities, but try not to overdo it. You need to pace yourself to start with and try to do a bit more each day. During tasks where you need to lift your arm up over your head, keeping your arm bent until your elbow is above shoulder height will reduce the strain going through the shoulder joint.

Rest and exercise: Aim for a balance between rest and exercise to prevent your shoulder from stiffening up. Try to avoid the movements that are most painful, especially those that hold your arm away from your body and above shoulder height. However, it’s important to remain generally active even if you have to limit how much you do.