Shoulder Pain

The WellHub Team

The shoulder is the most mobile joint of the body.  It relies on a tough fibrous sleeve called a capsule to give it stability and also a group of 4 muscles called the rotator cuff to control the movement of the shoulder.


There are a number of different causes of shoulder pain:


  • Osteoarthritis
  • Frozen shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis) 
  • Rotator cuff muscles and tendons
  • Bursitis which is the inflammation of a fluid filled sac called a bursa. 
  • Trauma resulting in a fracture or dislocation of the shoulder.
  • Pain can also be referred from the neck.


You should also speak to a Physiotherapist or Doctor if you have any of the following with your shoulder pain:

  • If you experience pins and needles
  • Have severe pain in both shoulders
  • Have had a trauma
  • Feel generally unwell or feverish
  • Have other generalised joint pains as well as shoulder pain.


How to self manage shoulder pain.

Painkillers: Speak to your Pharmacist or GP who can recommend medication to help with the pain. 


Ice or Heat: If you have recently injured your shoulder applying an ice pack for 10minutes at a time can be helpful to ease the pain.  Heat can be soothing for joint or muscular type pain.


Posture: The important thing about posture is to ensure that you change your position regularly and try to minimise repetitive tasks.  In work avoid trapping the phone between your ear and shoulder and make sure you get up and move little and often from your work station.


Rest and Exercise: It is important to get a balance between rest and exercise.  It may be beneficial to avoid the aggravating activities for a short period of time to allow your symptoms to settle but it is equally important to keep your shoulder moving as pain allows.  Once your pain is improving it is vital to build up the strength to help with recovery and prevent reoccurance in the future.  If you require further guidance on what is best for your shoulder pain please seek the advice of a Physiotherapist.


Sleeping Positions:  Pain at night can be particularly bothersome for those with shoulder pain.  There is no ideal position but it may be helpful to try the following suggestions to help reduce the discomfort:

  • Lie on the good side and use a number of pillows in front of your body to support your arm in front of you
  • If you are lying on your back, place one or two pillows under your arm to lift it off the bed.


Corticosteriod Injection: Your Physiotherapist or GP may recommend a corticosteriod injection to help ease the pain and allow you to start moving yuor shoulder again.  To gain the  most benefit following an injection it is important to have physiotherapy to help improve your range of movement and build up your strength.


Shoulder pain normally settles within 2-3 weeks, if it fails to do so please consult a Physiotherapist or GP for further advice.



Useful resources

Whether you want to share your own experiences of managing arthritis, or learn more about...
We’ve launched COVA, the COVID-19 Virtual Assistant , to provide much needed additional...
Support for back pain