Your shoulder joint is subject to many kinds of injuries as it is the most mobile joint in the body. It is subject to arthritis and bursitis, its ligaments and tendons can become frozen if they stiffen up, tendons can become inflamed from injury or overuse or your shoulder can dislocate for a variety of reasons. All of these conditions can cause pain and/or loss of range of motion in the shoulder area.
If you experience discomfort in your shoulder, Medline recommends you first ice it, but do not apply the ice or ice pack directly to the skin. Apply ice for 15 minutes, then remove it for 15 minutes. Repeat this procedure for several hours. For the next two to three days, continue this procedure three to four times per day.
Rest your shoulder as much as possible. You may need help to avoid using your shoulder. Activities that require raising your arm over your head or using the injured shoulder for repetitive motions such as driving or sports should be avoided until the swelling and inflammation have subsided. If you have trouble remembering not to use your shoulder, you can get a sling from the drugstore and use it to immobilize the joint until the inflammation is reduced.
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be taken to reduce the inflammation and the pain. If you take acetaminophen, be sure you take it exactly as directed to avoid liver damage. If you drink more than three alcoholic beverages per day, do not use acetaminophen. Aspirin can be used in lieu of acetaminophen, but do not take aspirin if you are on blood thinners. You can alternate between ibuprofen and aspirin, taking one and then the other every two hours, if you cannot tolerate the pain.
Arnica ointment is derived from Arnica montana. It is used to reduce inflammation and pain and can be purchased in drugstores. It has no serious side effects. Rub the ointment on the shoulder area several times per day.