Noticed lately that your shoulder seems sensitive? Maybe it’s just a twinging pain, or perhaps it feels like you tore or pulled something. You may even feel a pinched sensation that causes pain to travel down your arm.
Shoulder pain can be caused by a variety of different things, ranging from injury to a pinched nerve or pulled muscle. Once you determine what’s going on with your shoulder, you can easily treat your mild to moderate pain at home.
If shoulder pain worsens over time or is so painful you can’t move your arm, contact your doctor because you may need imaging done to determine the extent and severity of your shoulder situation.
In the meantime, take a look at some of the top ways for seniors to relieve shoulder pain in the comfort of home.
Best Ways for Seniors to Relieve Shoulder Pain
1. Apply a cold compress
Using a cold compress is an effective way to treat a shoulder in pain. Not only does it help numb pain, it can also reduce inflammation and swelling if you’re dealing with those issues.
It’s a medication-free way to treat pain caused by arthritis, an injury, or another type of issue that is causing shoulder pain.
You can use a store-bought compress or cold pack, but if you don’t have one, make your own by wrapping a bag of frozen vegetables with a soft towel or cloth then applying it to the affected area.
You can also fill a bag with ice cubes. Always wrap veggies or cubes in a cloth and avoid applying ice directly to your skin.
You can use this treatment any time, but it’s recommended to do it in 20-minute increments five times a day or whenever it’s needed.
For more effective treatment, you can alternate cold therapy with heat therapy and add medication in as well to get a handle on a painful shoulder.
2. Use a compression bandage
A compression bandage can help support your shoulder and ensure you stay as pain-free as possible. You can use everyday medical tape that’s elastic to create a compression brace for your shoulder.
If you’re not sure about your wrapping abilities, head to the pharmacy and purchase a pre-prepared shoulder wrap that you can simply slip on and Velcro around your shoulder where you are having pain.
When you are wrapping your shoulder with tape, avoid wrapping too tight, or you could create obstructed blood flow in your arm. Wrap it so it’s well-fitting; not too loose or not too tight.
You can use an ACE bandage for this purpose. When it comes to compression, you can use this anytime in order to give yourself support. Change out the bandage when needed.
Make sure your fingers aren’t tingly or numb and you can freely move your arm and hand. If you are having movement problems, the compression bandage may be too tight.
3. Try pain medication
Don’t hesitate to try over-the-counter medications to help reduce the pain in your shoulder. The most common pain medications include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, and naproxen.
If you have shoulder pain that stems from tendonitis, arthritis, a pulled muscle, or an injury, such as a rotator cuff injury, then NSAIDs are prescribed by most doctors to help relieve shoulder pain.
Make sure before you take any new medications that you talk to your pharmacist or doctor to ensure you don’t have a conflict with any existing medications and prescriptions.
Follow the directions on the bottle and take the medication as directed. You may want to take medication with a small snack or meal to avoid stomach irritation.
Taking medication coupled with other types of therapy such as applying a cold pack can give you some much-needed relief from shoulder pain.
4. Modify your daily activities
If you’re in pain, repeating the activity that may have caused your shoulder pain is a bad idea. You may need to modify your daily activities for a while until you start feeling better.
If you pulled a muscle doing yoga or lifting weights, avoid these exercises for a couple of weeks or longer. Switch your daily routine by adding walking in or something else low-impact that doesn’t directly involve your sore shoulder.
Give yourself some time to rest each day and use an ice pack to keep swelling and soreness at bay. Work around your soreness.
Don’t avoid movement altogether; moving is good for you, even if it’s low-impact and only for half an hour a day. Just avoid direct pressure or use of your hurt shoulder.
Use gentle, slow movements when you do move your injured arm. Don’t push yourself past your limits. This could cause it to take longer for your shoulder to heal up.
5. Do some stretches
Sitting around won’t help your shoulder, even though moderate rest is recommended. Forego your usual exercise routine for some low-impact exercises, and if you don’t feel like exercising at all, simply add some stretches to your day.
There are a lot of stretches that can help you strengthen your shoulder and help keep your arms flexible as your injury is healing and you are feeling better.
One of these is arm circles. You can put your arm out and rotate them in circles gently. Don’t move your injured arm; simply circle your other arm.
Another good stretching exercise is to intertwine your fingers in front of you, then raise your arms over your head. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades. Don’t put too much pressure on your shoulders; the exercises shouldn’t hurt.
You can do each of these stretches 20 times a day. This can help you keep your body moving without hurting yourself.
6. Try pain relief cream
Sometimes you may be unable to take over-the-counter NSAIDs for a number of reasons, or you just may prefer not to take pills due to side effects or interactions.
Pain creams are a good alternative to oral medications. They are made with different ingredients and often may not cause the same effects as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Rubbing a pain cream into your shoulder can help relieve some of the tension you are feeling and feel good on your sore arm.
Many people who suffer from osteoarthritis use pain relieving gels and creams. You can ask the pharmacist or doctor for a recommendation if you have never used them before.
Some may offer a sensation of warmth or heat when you apply which can soothe your sore shoulder.
Follow the directions and apply the cream as directed. Contact your doctor if you have questions about using this cream or using it alongside other treatments or medications.
If you are having a hard time reaching the affected area, enlist a friend or family member to help apply the cream.
7. Opt for heat therapy
Though a cold compress can be helpful, there may be times when you feel like heat can aid your sore shoulder, especially if you have an injury or achy muscles.
There are several ways you can use heat to your advantage. One way is to use an electric heating pad. These are easy and convenient, and some even have timers so the pad will turn off by itself after a set amount of time in case you fall asleep.
Another option is to use a hot water bottle. Place the bottle on the affected area and relax while the heat of the bottle does its job.
Heat can help relieve muscle pain and relax your muscles so they are less stiff and painful. It also just feels really good on sore spots! This is true for many types of pain too, such as back pain and wrist pain.
Another way to enjoy the feel of heat on your injury is to take a hot bath. Add some Epsom salts to the tub to relieve inflammation and soak in the tub for half an hour.
This is relaxing as well as helpful, and you may feel looser and less stiff and sore when you get out. You can do these each day whenever needed.
8. Pop a muscle relaxer
If you have exhausted the possibilities of over-the-counter medications and you are in severe pain, it might be time to call in the big guns.
Muscle relaxers are prescription medications that are different than over-the-counter pain relievers. They alleviate pain by relaxing your muscles.
They have different side effects than pain medication, including drowsiness and possible dizziness. However, they can be a great help if you are feeling severe pain.
If you have seen your doctor and know there is nothing else serious wrong, he or she may prescribe a muscle relaxer for you.
Take the smallest dose prescribed to see how the pill affects you. Some people have no problem taking muscle relaxers, and some people find themselves unable to get through the day. You may want to only take them at night if this happens.
Make sure you have no plans to drive or travel when you take muscle relaxers, because you never know how they can affect you, and they can impede your judgment when driving.
9. Take care of yourself inside and out
Make sure even though you are struggling with pain that you are eating a well-balanced diet and getting enough water to drink.
Get the right amount of sleep at night. If you are having trouble going to sleep because of pain, talk to your doctor about a muscle relaxer to take in the evening or natural remedies to fall asleep.
Make sure you are resting during the day as well as doing a bit of light activity. It’s best to avoid smoking or drinking alcohol when you are recovering – cigarettes can slow down your recovery by creating problems with blood circulation.
Don’t let your hurt shoulder take away from the things you do for self-care, even if it’s resting in front of the TV every night or a phone call to a friend on the weekends. Take care of all of your needs and stay healthy, take your vitamins, and care for yourself properly.
This will ensure you are recovering in good time and feeling good otherwise.
10. Call your doctor
If you feel like you have tried home remedies and you are still in severe pain, it could be time to see your doctor. You may have a serious injury, such as a torn rotator cuff. This requires medical interference.
If you feel your injured arm is weak, this is also a sign you need to get help. Another sign is feeling like no matter what you do or take, you are still in immense pain. Can’t lift your arm at all? That’s a sure sign to call your physician.
Lastly, if it feels like your arm could fall out of the socket or if you are scared to move it, maybe something is out of place and you need a medical opinion.
Your doctor may need to do X-rays or scans to make sure you haven’t had a serious injury.
You may also require the aid of a steroid injection to assist with pain and inflammation. This could last a while and help you feel a bit more normal as you recover.