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Shoulder Pain: 3 Common Tactics That DON’T Work
Dec. 9, 2015
Have you ever suffered from shoulder pain or known someone who has?

Often times, there’s no real cause for shoulder pain, it just seems to sneak up on people…especially those who are 50 .

One day you’re doing your normal activities, some reaching here, some lifting and carrying there, and then it bites you!

Yes, it happens to a lot of people.  In fact, it’s the second most common type of pain we treat in the clinic (behind back pain of course).

A common report of pain goes something like this:

“I woke up one morning 2 months ago with pain in my neck and shoulder.  I thought it would just go away, but now it’s getting really annoying.”


“At first my shoulder just felt a bit stiff when I woke up in the morning.  Now I can’t tolerate sleeping on it, and I can’t even reach up to comb my hair with that arm.”

And because shoulder pain so often strikes without a specific cause, people usually try a number of tactics before coming to see us and end their pain (often after months of suffering)…

  1. Pain Medications (and anti-inflammatories)
  2. R&R (rest and relaxation)
  3. Relaxation massage

Does this sound familiar?  You might even include heat and ice, which can help but don’t get to the root of the problem.

Here’s why none of these tactics typically work:

  1. Pain Medications

I feel like most of us already know why painkillers don’t work, and we’ve probably all said this at least once to a friend: all they do is MASK THE PAIN.

Medications like hydrocodone and Tylenol simply cover the pain, while NSAIDs like ibuprofen and Aleve just reduce the inflammation.

While these things might help you manage the acute symptoms of pain, they never actually treat the underlying cause of the pain.

And unfortunately, for various reasons, shoulder pain doesn’t tend to just go away.  Not fair, since it came up with no specific cause…

  1. Rest and Relaxation

By far the most common home remedy, resting the shoulder may seem like a good idea, especially when simple movements like reaching hurt.

But beware, the shoulder can quickly tighten up, and the muscles become weak almost instantly.

This is particularly true regarding your rotator cuff muscles, which are often involved with shoulder pain (ever heard of these?).

People who end up resting their shoulders for prolonged periods (because the initial day or two of rest didn’t help), typically end up having much more difficulty using their arm than when they initially developed pain.

By the time they come to us for help, they start in somewhat of a hole, since they now have shoulder tightness and rotator cuff weakness in addition to pain.

  1. Relaxation Massages

While these massages feel lovely, they’ll never help you relieve your shoulder pain.

Even if your shoulder pain is completely muscular (which is very uncommon), the muscle or muscles in question are very rarely the actual CAUSE of your pain.

Sure it feels great to have those knots relieved and feel the tension drain from your upper back.  But again, if you have shoulder pain, any pain relief with massage only will be temporary.

(Just for the record, I love a good massage and I think they’re excellent for general health and stress management)


If you’ve tried any of these tactics without success, this is where we can help.

When you come to us with your shoulder pain, we’ll first evaluate your pain and help you determine the true cause of the pain.

Next, we’ll develop specific stretches and exercises designed to help you regain losses in strength and flexibility.

Combine these efforts with hands-on therapy, and you’ll be recovering in no time!

Our goal is to help you get out of pain and back to all of your daily activities as soon as possible.

If you’d like to know what’s causing your annoying shoulder pain, give us a call and we’ll set you up with a free “Discovery Visit” with one of our PTs.

At the end of the visit, we’ll be able to tell you precisely what’s causing your shoulder pain and what you can do about it.

Just give us a call at 509.892.5442.

And if you have a friend or loved one who’s suffering from shoulder pain, please pass this along!

Dedicated to Your Health,



spokane valley gordon physical therapy

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Gordon Physical Therapy - Spokane Valley, WA

626 North Mullan Road #4, Spokane Valley, WA 99206

(509) 892-5442

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