Shoulder Treatment

You don’t think about how often you use your shoulder joint until shoulder pain keeps you from doing everyday things. There are some common shoulder pain signs that should lead you to see a doctor, which include:

  • Trouble sleeping due to pain.
  • A ripping or tearing sensation after a fall or when lifting.
  • Pain that radiates down the arm.
  • Weakness when lifting or holding an object with an outstretched arm.
  • No relief with anti-inflammatories.
  • Too painful to raise the arm above the shoulder level. 

Fortunately, shoulder pain is treatable and in most cases, with non-surgical options. The St. Elizabeth Healthcare Orthopaedic team has the expertise and experience to diagnose the cause for your shoulder pain. We offer a wide range of treatments, including advanced minimally invasive surgery for shoulder joints  that allows for faster healing with less pain. 

Treatments for Shoulder Conditions

Your doctor first diagnoses the cause for your shoulder pain by taking a medical history, conducting a physical exam and possibly using imaging such as X-ray, ultrasound, CT Scan or MRI. The most common conditions that cause shoulder pain are:

  • Arthritis 
  • Inflammation 
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Dislocation 
  • Fracture 

Treatment for shoulder pain can vary based on your condition, age and overall health. Our specialized Orthopaedic team will work with you to determine a customized treatment plan and help you reach your goal for less pain and increased shoulder mobility. Treatment for your shoulder condition may include:

RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)

You’ll get relief from shoulder pain for most shoulder conditions by taking time off and allowing the joint to heal. Ice packs wrapped in a towel and applied to the area for 20 minutes 4-8 times a day will help reduce inflammation caused by tendonitis, bursitis or rotator cuff issues. Compression with a wrap around the joint will help stabilize the joint and reduce swelling. Use a pillow to elevate the joint when you’re sleeping.


Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Aleve) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help reduce inflammation and pain of arthritis, bursitis and tendonitis. Your doctor may also recommend steroid injections in the joint to relieve pain.

Physical Therapy

Although tears in the rotator cuff don’t heal on their own, treating them with physical therapy and exercises may be an option. Strengthening the rotator cuff muscles and tendons can help reduce pain, increase flexibility and stabilize the joint.

Surgical Options

If non-surgical treatment hasn’t relieved your pain, surgery may be the best option to get you back to the active lifestyle you’ve had to put on hold. Surgery is typically recommended for total rotator cuff tears, severe fractures and advanced joint damage caused by arthritis. If your doctor recommends a total joint replacement, St. Elizabeth Healthcare offers advanced techniques in shoulder replacement surgery that help you heal faster and have better movement. 

Schedule an Appointment 

Is your shoulder pain bothering you? Schedule an appointment with our Sports Medicine physicians for a treatment plan tailored to you. Call (859) 212-5600 to make an appointment.

If surgery is necessary, our physicians can provide a referral to one of our affiliated orthopaedic surgeons. For more information on surgical options, please contact us at