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Relieve Shoulder Pain

Relieve Shoulder Pain

Bullet Point Summary - 

  • Common causes of shoulder pain include muscle strain, rotator cuff injuries, dislocations, and degenerative conditions like arthritis.
  • Treatments for shoulder pain at Summit Physical Therapy in Merrick, NY include rest, heat or cold therapy, posture alignment, lifestyle modifications, massage therapy, medications, acupuncture, and TENS.
  • Stretching, strengthening, and range of motion exercises are effective for relieving shoulder pain.
  • Less common sources of shoulder pain, like sleeping incorrectly or post-surgical discomfort, have specialized relief methods.

Shoulder pain is not something to be trifled with. The shoulder is the most movable joint in the body, and pain in this region can limit the range of motion and affect daily activities. Hence, it is crucial to find relief. However, shoulder pain relief depends on the underlying cause of the pain. This article explores shoulder pain, its causes, and strategies for relieving it at Summit Physical Therapy in Merrick, NY.

Causes of Shoulder Pain    

Shoulder pain results from different causes. The most common cause of shoulder pain includes muscle strain from injuries or muscle overuse, rotator cuff injuries, shoulder dislocations, and degenerative conditions like arthritis.

Other less common causes include your posture. For instance, sleeping in an awkward position, like your side, can cause shoulder pain. You may also experience referred shoulder pain after surgeries like gallbladder or laparoscopic surgery.

Why Should You Seek Medical Help for Shoulder Pain?

Because your shoulder is the most movable joint, shoulder pain can hinder movement. It is best to seek immediate help for shoulder pain if you have a weakness when lifting your arm. Physical therapy - Amityville, NY, can diagnose the root cause of your shoulder pain and develop a tailored treatment plan to guide you through your recovery.

A physical therapy treatment plan for shoulder pain will include manual therapy, exercises, modalities, and techniques to relieve pain, restore your range of motion, and help you regain shoulder function.

How to Relieve Shoulder Pain

There are several treatments for shoulder pain. Your physical therapist at Merrick, NY, may recommend one or a combination to treat your shoulder pain, depending on its underlying cause. Popular shoulder pain relief methods include;


Resting can protect your shoulder and improve healing. When you rest, you avoid activities that aggravate your pain. Usually, shoulder pain will resolve itself with active rest.

Heat or Cold Therapy

Heat or cold therapy can also provide relief for shoulder pain. With heat therapy, applying a heat source can increase blood flow, relax your muscles, and relieve pain. Conversely, cold therapy reduces swelling and inflammation and numbs the pain. It is best to consult your physical therapist for the best temperature therapy.

Sometimes, your physical therapist in Merrick may recommend alternating between heat and cold therapy to relieve shoulder pain. When applying any heat source to your shoulder, wrap it in a towel. Direct heat sources may cause burns.

Posture Alignment

Improper posture can also contribute to shoulder pain. For instance, your ears, shoulders, and hips should be aligned when sleeping. Improper alignment can add pressure to your spine, leading to shoulder pain.

In addition, it is essential to consider ergonomics to alleviate stress on your shoulder joint in your daily activities. If you work at a computer, maintain a neutral spine and position your computer screen at eye level to reduce shoulder pain.

Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle modifications also directly impact shoulder pain relief and prevent re-injury. Practicing good mechanics and incorporating regular breaks in your work can prevent strains on your shoulders.

Other lifestyle modifications for relieving shoulder pain include maintaining a healthy weight and managing stress. Mindfulness and relaxation exercises can help manage stress and reduce pain.

Massage Therapy

Physical therapists in Merrick perform massage therapy on the shoulder to reduce tension and relieve pain—techniques like deep tissue massage and Swedish massage target the shoulder area.


Your doctor may prescribe medications to relieve your shoulder pain in Merrick. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can provide temporary relief for the pain. In more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers to alleviate the pain.


Acupuncture is a non-drug therapy that treats shoulder pain. Your physical therapist will insert tiny needles into pressure points to relieve shoulder pain. Acupuncture stimulates the nerve, reduces tension, and improves blood flow. You may need multiple acupuncture sessions depending on the severity of the pain.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

TENS involves applying low-level electrical current to painful areas. The electrical impulses then reduce pain signals to the brain to relieve shoulder pain. Depending on the severity of the shoulder pain, you may have to under multiple sessions to provide permanent relief.


Stretching and strengthening exercises can relieve shoulder pain, improve flexibility, and prevent stiffness. Your physical therapist may also recommend a range of motion exercises to restore mobility and prevent further injury.

Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises flex and expand your muscles to improve flexibility and range of motion. Shoulder roll and triceps stretch are popular stretching exercises for relieving shoulder pain.

How to Do A Shoulder Roll
  • Stand tall and slightly tuck in your chin. Imagine that a string at the top of your head pulls you straight up.
  • Keep your arms relaxed.
  • Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, then up and back.
  • Circle your shoulders around in a circle to loosen them up.
  • Repeat the circles about 4 times.
How to Do Triceps Stretch
  • Reach your arm straight up.
  • Keep your elbow in place and bend your arm. Reach your hand down behind your back.
  • Apply gentle pressure to the bent elbow with your other hand. You should feel a stretch at the back of your upper arm and shoulder.
  • Hold the position for about 10 seconds.
  • Repeat the exercise about 4 times with each arm.

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening exercises improve your muscle strength, size, and endurance. Popular shoulder strengthening exercises include wash-on, wash-off, and isometric door frame hold.

How to Do Wash On, Wash Off Exercise
  • Draw circles with your arm clockwise as if you were wiping a window.
  • Do it for 30 seconds.
  • Move your arm in anticlockwise movements.
  • Do it for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the exercise 4 times clockwise and then anticlockwise.
How to Do Isometric Door Frame Hold
  • Tuck your elbow in, keeping it next to your body.
  • Pull against a door frame and resist the movement of your arm inwards towards your stomach.
  • Your arm should not move.
  • Hold the position for about 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Repeat the exercise.

Range of Motion Exercises

Range of motion (ROM) exercises involve a series of progressive stretches to improve mobility. Popular ROM exercises for shoulder pain include pendulum and supine cross-chest stretch.

How to Do Pendulum Exercise
  • Bend over at the waist and let your arm hang down.
  • Use your body to initiate movement and swing your arm gently forward and backward in a circular motion.
  • Repeat for the other arm.
How to Do Supine Cross-Chest Stretch
  • Lie on your back and hold your elbow with the opposite hand.
  • Gently stretch the elbow toward the opposite shoulder.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat for the other arm.

How to Relieve Shoulder Pain from Less Common Sources

Less common sources of shoulder pain, like sleeping wrong, and surgical complications like laparoscopic and gallbladder surgery have specialized pain relief methods.

How to Relieve Shoulder Pain from Sleeping Wrong

When you sleep on your side for prolonged periods, your shoulder muscles may experience stiffness and soreness. You may also have morning shoulder soreness, a sign of injury. Sleeping wrongly or on your side can also lead to impingement, bursitis, rotator cuff tears, and osteoarthritis.

Your doctor may prescribe medications, ice, and heat therapy to relieve shoulder pain from sleeping incorrectly. You may also exercise regular stretching and strengthening to keep your shoulder healthy and minimize pain.

Your doctor will also recommend sleeping on your back to offload pressure from your shoulders and propping your neck to a comfortable position with a pillow. Also, if you must sleep on your side, there are specialized side pillows that can remove direct pressure from your shoulders.

How to Relieve Shoulder Pain After Laparoscopic Surgery

Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive technique for several surgeries, including endometriosis, gastric bypass, gallbladder removal, and ectopic pregnancy removal. However, because the surgery involves using gas to inflate the stomach, there may be trapped gas afterward. This trapped CO2 gas may irritate the phrenic nerve and cause shoulder pain.

You can relieve shoulder pain resulting from laparoscopic surgery by walking. Walking daily and gradually increasing distance can relieve gas, boost blood flow, and reduce shoulder pain. You can also apply a heat pack to provide relief.

Other ways to relieve shoulder pain after laparoscopic surgery include taking a hot shower, drinking hot liquids, and staying hydrated.

When Is Surgery Needed for Shoulder Pain?

In some cases, surgery is needed to address shoulder pain. You may need surgical intervention if your shoulder pain does not improve within 3 to 6 months, even after other treatment methods. Chronic shoulder pain may require procedures like arthroscopy, joint replacement, or rotator cuff repair.

However, despite surgery, rehabilitation and postoperative care are essential to ensure you heal properly and regain mobility.


Shoulder pain can interfere with your daily activities. But with proper treatment, you should be able to return to your activities without the risk of further injury. Techniques for relieving shoulder pain include rest, massage therapy, medications, acupuncture, and posture alignment. Your physical therapist at Summit Physical Therapy will recommend one or a combination of treatments to relieve your shoulder pain.

However, it is essential to note that shoulder pain may sometimes result from less common sources like sleeping on your side or laparoscopic surgery. In that case, your physical therapist may recommend non-conventional treatment methods to alleviate your pain. 

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