Five Conservative Care Options for Shoulder Pain

Five Conservative Care Options for Shoulder Pain

OrthoAspen features effective non-surgical shoulder treatment options.

The shoulder is composed of several joints which are connected by muscle, tendons and ligaments. This complex network enables the shoulder to perform its wide range of physical motions, from routine activities like reaching and light lifting to high-impact athletics, including skiing, weightlifting and rock climbing.

Unfortunately, the presence of so many interdependent (and frequently delicate) components within the shoulder joint result in an elevated susceptibility to injury and shoulder pain. Damage to one element, such as a single tendon or the cartilage lining of the joint, can result in chronic pain and compromised function of the entire shoulder. Likewise, the critical role of the shoulder joint in countless activities makes the shoulder prone to overuse, traumatic injuries and general wear and tear.

When patients are dealing with serious shoulder pain, many orthopedic practices default to surgery as the standard, one-size-fits-all solution. As a practice that values conservative care and the integration of diverse, comprehensive treatment methods, OrthoAspen’s shoulder specialists choose to recommend surgery only when non-operative treatments have proven insufficient.

For many patients, however, these non-surgical solutions will provide shoulder pain relief. Listed below are some of these conservative methods.

Five Non-Operative Treatments for Shoulder Pain

shoulder painFour categories of shoulder conditions are responsible for the majority of shoulder pain symptoms. These shoulder pain causes include:

  • Arthritis and degenerative joint conditions
  • Fractures
  • Shoulder instability
  • Tendon inflammation (including bursitis and tendinitis) and/or tears

In most mild cases or instances when these orthopedic issues are diagnosed in an early, minimally-advanced stage, non-operative treatments can successfully be used in lieu of surgery.

If you have received a shoulder pain diagnosis, the shoulder specialists at OrthoAspen may recommend one or more of the following conservative treatments.

  • Lifestyle Modifications
    For patients who are experiencing symptoms due to trauma or overuse, reduction of work, recreation or routine activities with repetitive, straining or high-impact shoulder movements can often significantly relieve shoulder pain and allow the opportunity for healing.
  • Physical Therapy
    A carefully composed and personalized regimen of shoulder pain exercises and stretches can strengthen and restore affected bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. At OrthoAspen, certified physical therapists work with physicians at every stage of the treatment process.
  • Icing and Heating
    For symptoms of pain and inflammation, the use of ice and heat packs (often alongside rest, compression and elevation) can reduce swelling and provide pain relief.
  • Bracing
    Devices such as bandaging, slings and shoulder braces are often diagnosed to allow the shoulder to rest and recover through immobilization and elevation or to create compression.
  • Painkillers, Anti-Inflammatory Medications and Injections
    For mild pain, particularly after traumatic accidents, painkillers may be diagnosed. Anti-inflammatory medications are effective for the management of arthritis and tendon inflammation, while more serious inflammation and joint damage may require cortisone injections.

At OrthoAspen, we are proud to offer these and other non-surgical treatments for shoulder pain; our shoulder specialists will determine which options are best for you. Conservative, comprehensive care is at the heart of our orthopedic philosophy. To learn more about shoulder treatments or to schedule an appointment, contact OrthoAspen today.


Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1110
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1110