How to Relieve Shoulder Pain – Treatment and Conditions in Singapore 2024

What Causes Shoulder Pain?: Steven Grossinger, DO: Pain Management Physician
After low back pain and knee pain, shoulder pain is estimated to be the third most common orthopaedic problem worldwide.

In addition to pain, shoulder ailments cause functional disabilities that can interfere with routine daily tasks, work duties, hobbies, and sporting activities, leading to reduced quality of life.

Why are shoulder complaints so common?

The physical demands on the shoulder require a wide range of motion while lifting, carrying loads, reaching, and stretching. A ball-and-socket joint like a hip won’t work. Instead, the shoulder is a complex unit composed of four articulations with an arrangement of supporting bones, muscles and ligaments within and outside of the joint capsule.

This complex physiology makes the shoulder vulnerable to injuries, especially when carrying or moving heavy loads. If you are experiencing chronic shoulder pain, visit our shoulder pain clinic in Singapore for a diagnosis and specialised treatment.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

Some of the common causes of shoulder injury include:

Rotator cuff problems – The most common cause of shoulder pain has to do with the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder joint that keeps the arm in the shoulder socket. When these tendons become trapped under the bony area in the shoulder, they become inflamed or damaged, causing rotator cuff tendinitis or bursitis.

Bursitis – This painful condition happens when the bursa become inflamed and filled with more fluid. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that enables smooth joint movement.

Rheumatoid arthritis –This autoimmune disease causes the immune system to attack the protective lining in the joints. It is a painful condition for which there is no cure.

Shoulder fracture – When one or more of the three bones of in the shoulder joint breaks.

Arthritis in the shoulder joint – When the cartilage on the ball or socket sides of the shoulder joint starts wearing down.

Dislocation of the shoulder – When the upper arm bone pops out of its place in the shoulder blade.

Osteophytes (bone spurs) – This is excess bone growth around the shoulder joint.

Frozen shoulder – The muscles, tendons, and ligaments within the shoulder stiffen, causing pain and difficulty to move.

Damage to the upper brachial plexus nerves – This causes numbness and loss of motion around the shoulder.

Referred Shoulder Pain – The source of the pain is not the shoulder but somewhere else the neck, arm or stomach. Referred shoulder pain is diagnosed when there is no change in the pain when the arm is moved.

Pain symptoms

Depending on the cause of the injury, shoulder pain varies from a dull ache to stabbing, burning, throbbing, or tingling pain. The shoulder can also feel stiff or weak.

Tips for relieving shoulder pain

Frozen shoulder

Physical therapy is usually recommended for frozen shoulder. In addition to the therapy sessions, the physiotherapist can show you exercises to perform at home to boost recovery. For the pain you can take drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen. These medications will also reduce swelling.   The problem often goes away after some weeks, months, or even years.


Shoulder pain treatment for osteoarthritis includes rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid injections, and sometimes surgery. It is important to keep moving even if it causes pain. If you stop moving, the muscles will stiffen and shorten making movement even harder.

Try to do some simple stretch exercises to help keep the shoulder muscles flexible.

Living with arthritis may also mean making lifestyle changes. For example, if you notice that an activity causes you pain, you might consider stopping it, even if the activity itself has always been a source of joy.

Shoulder arthritis pain is treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and injections. Cortisone shots are common for the relief of shoulder arthritis pain.

When these nonsurgical treatments become ineffective, your doctor may consider surgery.

Rotator cuff problems

Aim with the treatment to reduce pain while restoring full function. If you experience shoulder pain and don’t need surgery, you can treat your discomfort at home.

Treat your shoulder pain as you would another injury: with rest and ice. Apply ice to the area for 15 minutes 3 to 4 times a day for 2 to 3 days. Rest your shoulder during that time. Wrap the ice in a cloth so it doesn’t touch your skin directly.

Consult a physiotherapist for some gentle exercises to ease your shoulder back to usual movements so you can resume daily activities. Ask the therapist to teach you exercises to stretch and strengthen your rotator cuff tendons and shoulder muscles as well as range-of-motion exercises to keep your shoulder flexible.


Your first call of action should be to rest your shoulder. In particular, avoid the activity that you suspect caused the inflammation in the first place.

If the pain and inflammation are severe, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen. Put some ice, wrapped in a towel, on the affected area.

Consider wearing a shoulder brace to help support and immobilise your shoulder and arm. Slowly start incorporating gentle shoulder stretches to encourage healing, promote strength and avoid frozen shoulder.

If you continue to experience discomfort and pain despite treatment for up to 12 months, your doctor might recommend surgery.

Topical Treatments for Shoulder Pain

You can try analgesic creams, patches, and Voltaren Gel to relieve pain. Analgesic creams contain ingredients that produce a numbing or cooling sensation that can alleviate pain. You can apply patches infused with pain-relieving ingredients to your shoulder to relieve pain and discomfort. Many people use Voltaren Gel to reduce pain and inflammation in their shoulders.


Certain common shoulder injuries such as fractures, dislocations, separations, and fractures usually need surgery to correct.

Also, in case of shoulder pain caused by a cartilage tear, rotator cuff tear, or a frozen shoulder that doesn’t improve after weeks or months of treatment, a shoulder pain doctor may suggest surgery.