Managing shoulder pain without surgery

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Fortunately, the majority of shoulder injuries can be treated successfully without the need for surgery.

The most important step toward treating a shoulder issue or injury properly is determining what caused the pain. Once the source of the pain is determined, an individual’s activities may need to be adjusted to avoid causing the injury and irritation again.

Over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medications can help alleviate shoulder pain, and in some instances, handle the problem without the need for medical evaluation.

Anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen, Advil and Aleve are recommended; however, certain individuals may not be able to take anti-inflammatories or experience side effects when taking them.

In this case, OTC pain relief medications, such as Tylenol, can be effective alternatives for pain management.

It is also important to continue to move and stretch the shoulder muscles to avoid stiffness. If the shoulder pain persists after a couple weeks of taking OTC medications, it is time to seek evaluation from a doctor.

Orthopedic specialists and other related physicians will be able to evaluate how limited the patient’s range of motion has become and take X-rays of the shoulder to determine what type of injury has occurred.

Once the problem is diagnosed, proper exercise education and physical therapy is usually involved in the treatment process.

Pairing the proper exercise routine/physical therapy with cortisone injections can also help to further reduce the inflammation, and sometimes cure the condition.

If the pain still persists after all conservative, non-invasive treatment options are completed, it is time to discuss surgery with your orthopedic specialist.

Fortunately, within our community, Cone Health Orthopedic Center of Excellence has an exceptional network of orthopedic and sports medicine specialists trained to diagnose and treat all types of shoulder injuries (surgically and non-surgically) and return patients to their normal lives and routines as quickly as possible.

Physician Background:
Dr. Ryan Draper is a sports medicine specialist at Cone Health Sports Medicine.

Dr. Draper is a 2001 graduate of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his residency in family medicine at East Tennessee State University in 2004, and completed a fellowship in sports medicine at Cone Health in 2005.


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