A Guide to Coping With Shoulder Pain

Coping with Shoulder Pain

The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body. This leaves our shoulders vulnerable to injury through the actions we carry out in our everyday lives. Waking up with shoulder pain and tension can be very disturbing to your daily routine. It can become a struggle to complete daily household work and chores. Shoulder pain can have many causes, from injury to tension, to having slept in an uncomfortable position the night before. Shoulder pain can also be triggered by sports, gym exercises, or lifting heavy items. Pain medication can help, however, the relief may only last a few hours and may not be enough on its own to adequately manage the pain. Here are some home remedies that can help lessen shoulder pain:

Cold compress:

Applying ice to the sore area can both numb the area and reduce inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, and cramps. Ice is also great for use after exercise or after prolonged, painful activity.

Microwaveable heat pack: 

The warmth from these heat packs can help reduce the pain, muscle stiffness, and muscle spasms that may be the cause of your shoulder pain. These are little fabric cases that are often filled with wheat that you can stick in the microwave and put on your shoulder or any other sore spot.

Anti-inflammatory medication:

Anti-inflammatory medication: In the case of injury, arthritis, or tendonitis, anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce inflammation and therefore reduce pain. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories you can purchase include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen

Anti-inflammatories can help reduce shoulder pain

These home remedies for shoulder pain are especially great for when you experience shoulder pain at night and have no access to a medical professional’s help. If your shoulder pain is ongoing and is becoming bothersome it is advisable that you consult a doctor to ensure there is nothing seriously wrong. This can sometimes result in an X-ray in order to attempt to identify the source of your pain.


Once the cause of your shoulder pain has been discovered and your doctor has given you the all clear, yoga can be incredibly helpful with relieving pain, bringing back strength, and increasing mobility. Yoga can also help with inflammation in other areas of the body. Studies have been done that show that people who do yoga regularly experience less inflammation overall than those who don’t. Yoga poses that work well for shoulder pain include shoulder roles, neck role, and the downward-facing-dog against the wall. If while you’re doing yoga you experience sharp or stabbing pain, tingling, or numbness, it may be wise to avoid that pose for a week or two.


Stiffness or tightness in the shoulders can limit movement; and if it goes untreated, it can cause tension headaches. If yoga isn’t your thing, then simple stretches are an easy way to relieve shoulder pain and tightness. Stretches that work well for shoulder pain include the cross-body-shoulder-stretch, cross body arm swings, and a stretch called the cow-face pose. Stretching can also help improve posture, which is important for preventing back and shoulder pain.

Yoga can reduce shoulder pain

If the pain still persists after a few weeks, it may be beneficial to look into consulting a Physical therapist.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is often recommended for treatment of an injury or rehab after surgery. Physical therapy treatment often starts off with an initial evaluation where you are asked about your pain and what triggers it. The strength and movement in your shoulder may also be tested. After this assessment, the treatment can begin. You may receive massages and be given a home-exercise-program specifically tailored to you to help the strength and mobility of your shoulder. You should be able to notice an improvement in your shoulder within a few weeks. If your shoulder pain still continues to persist, you may need to see a specialist.

Shoulder pain and tension is a common, yet often treatable affliction. These treatments for shoulder pain can help keep your shoulder mobile and strong. In the case of severe pain, consult your doctor or physiotherapist before doing any exercises such as stretches or yoga

Expert Advice on Battling Arthritis Pain

With over 100 different forms, arthritis is not only common among Americans, but it affects people of all ages across the globe. It would be wrong to say that arthritis is a single disease – because it’s an umbrella term that stands for joint inflammation. In short, it stands for a group of joint conditions that affect one’s mobility by restricting the ability of their joints to function effectively.

Expert advice in battling arthritis pain
Arthritis in Hands

A principal cause of disability in the US, arthritis is more common among people above 60. 

According to the Arthritis Foundation, “Almost 300,000 babies and children have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.” It further says that “The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which affects an estimated 31 million Americans.

And the worst part is, by 2040, over 78 million Americans are expected to suffer from this problem. So what’s essential for us to realize at the moment is the fact that when this condition affects someone, it not only creates a problem for them alone, but it also has a severe impact on their loved ones, friends, and colleagues.

When you have a loved one living with pain and discomfort, it affects more than just them. You may find yourself struggling to focus on your own job and the rest of the areas of life. The illness of your loved one affects your own mental state to a great extent because you are concerned about their health and well-being. And since you can’t always see them struggling with life, you tend to worry more from afar. Make sure you talk about your own concerns with a trusted friend or therapist if you feel you need a safe place to vent.

Here Are Some Common Forms Of Arthritis


Stems from the overuse of joints with age, osteoarthritis is by far the most common form of arthritis. Also known as wear and tear arthritis, it’s a degenerative joint disease that worsens with age. People with this condition have cartilage damage, which leads to pain in the joint. 

Cartilage is a thin, firm, and flexible connective tissue that safeguards the end of the bones in a joint by working between them as a cushion. It prevents the friction between bones; however, when it becomes damaged, it fails to fulfill its purpose, which eventually results in joint pain. 

The factors that put you at the risk of osteoarthritis include age, genetics, obesity, joint injuries, and high-intensity physical activity. Some of these factors are beyond your control such as age; however, you can certainly avoid the risk that comes with obesity, joint injuries, and high-intensity workouts. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis 

A chronic autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that occurs when the immune system attacks the joints, which eventually results in inflammation and pain. If you fail to treat this condition, you will end up damaging your joints permanently. People with this condition get rheumatoid nodules – which are nothing but the lumps on the skin in areas that are subject to pressure like elbows and heels. 

The immune system attacks the synovium – which is a thin layer of connective tissue surrounding the joints. And when it becomes damaged, it releases a chemical that affects bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. 

Risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis include smoking, genes, and hormonal effects. It is more common among females. 

According to an NCBI study, “Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, autoimmune inflammatory disease with a female predominance, and is estimated to affect approximately 1% of the world’s population.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is another common form of arthritis, and it mostly starts affecting people between 30-to-50 years of age. 

It’s a disease that leads to red and patchy areas in the skin, and it affects both males and females equally. 

You can divide different forms of arthritis into

  • Degenerative arthritis
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Metabolic arthritis
  • Infectious arthritis

Managing Arthritis Pain

Try Physical Therapy

The pain that results from arthritis can keep you from living a physically active life; therefore, it’s essential that you take the right type of treatment, which can improve your quality of life. People with arthritis, who fail to perform the activities of daily living with ease, don’t only struggle to gather that much-needed confidence but also have poor self-esteem. 

Therefore, to live a happy, healthy, independent, and dignified life, it’s essential that you seek quality treatment. One of the best treatments for subsiding the pain that stems from arthritis is physical therapy. The reason it is considered one of the most effective ways of dealing with joint inflammation is, it doesn’t rely on surgeries and medications. 

Yes, physical therapy is not only pain-free, but it’s also a drug-free and surgery-free treatment for managing arthritis pain and improving flexibility. It enhances the ability of your joints to function effectively.

A physical therapist uses a variety of techniques to minimize the pain that stems from injuries and chronic illnesses. For example, to relieve the pain that occurs due to injuries, they might use physical therapy techniques like Kinesio Taping, passive treatments to relax your body such as massage, heat and cold therapy, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), and ultrasound.

However, when it comes to managing the pain that stems from arthritis, they generally use aquatic therapy, and there are several reasons behind that. It is a pain-relief technique during which a skilled physical therapist helps their patients perform effective exercises underwater. 

Aquatherapy for arthritis pain relief
Woman working out in the pool

Water Therapy

Water not only helps in performing the exercises smoothly but it also reduces the pressure on your joints. During the aquatic therapy sessions, your therapist will ask you to carry out only those moves that are healthy for you. It not only helps in minimizing the pain but also offers that much-needed relaxation. 

According to Aquatic Therapy – a trusted wellness center in Atlanta, Georgia “Aquatic therapy is a viable option for treating arthritic joints. The water helps to provide compression, which reduces swelling. Apart from that, the buoyancy of the water unloads the joint, allowing for greater range of motion without the weight of the body compressing joints together.

However, before incorporating the exercises that you need to perform, your therapist will check your range of motion. For obtaining a deeper understanding of your health, they will also check your medical history. 

Lose Weight 

Overweight is the biggest problem for those struggling with arthritis pain. Since it puts enormous stress on your weight-bearing joints, it increases the intensity of the pain naturally. Yes, you got that right, when you perform physical activities, you feel severe pain on your weight-bearing joints such as hips, knees, and ankles because they have to struggle with your body weight. 

Therefore, if you want to shed those extra pounds and improve your joint health, it’s essential for you to adopt a useful workout routine. Since you are already struggling with a joint disease, make sure that you consult a healthcare professional before starting your workout routine. Once they give the thumbs up, you can go ahead with it. 

Also, make sure that you take the help of an experienced fitness trainer; otherwise, you might end up injuring your joints by performing the wrong moves. 

Rely On Healthy Foods 

Consuming healthy food is not only crucial for fighting arthritis pain, but it’s also significant in enhancing your overall well-being. Fish is highly vital for you to beat arthritis pain. Therefore, you should increase the intake of salmon, herring, tuna, and mackerel. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which helps control inflammation. 

Apart from increasing the consumption of fish, you should also include soybeans in your diet as they are a rich source of protein and fiber, which is very good for rheumatoid arthritis patients. 

Try and increase your intake of healthy oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil, and walnut oil in your diet. Other healthy additions to your diet include broccoli, cherries, milk, yogurt, and green tea along with following a healthy eating plan. Limit sweets and focus more on fruits and veggies filling half your plate, along with proteins and carbs. Be wary of fad diets that make excessive promises – you may see some initial changes, but it’s hard to maintain these diets over the long run and weight gain usually comes back.

Last but not least, you should always try to maintain a positive attitude, enjoy warm baths with Epsom Salts, stay as active as possible, and get a good night’s sleep. These are all ways to help yourself stay as healthy as possible

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Me

Dena writes about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome at The Unchargeables.

Hi! My name is Dena and I have hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or hEDS. There are several different forms of EDS. The most common types are hypermobile, classic, & vascular. There are several other forms that are fairly uncommon and quite severe.

The one thing all EDS patients have in common is our collagen is malformed at the molecular level. This means the “glue” that holds us together doesn’t work. Because our collagen is malformed, taking a supplement will not help our bodies fix it; we will just make more broken collagen. My form of EDS, hypermobile, shows itself primarily through extremely limber joints.

My Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Story

Like many others with a rare disease, I did not get diagnosed quickly. As a child I was often told that the pain in my legs and hips was growing pains and to quit whining. When I got a little older and seemed to be constantly spraining my wrists and ankles and my knees were doing all kinds of weird things, I was called an attention seeker.

It wasn’t until my mid-30s that people started taking me seriously. I kept winding up in physical therapy and the physical therapist noted I had almost no stability in my hips whatsoever. My chiropractor at the time also commented on how hypermobile I was and that I needed to be really careful about losing strength because when I lost strength, my joints would dislocate easier. At this time it was also mentioned that my chances of successfully having a child were slim due to the excessive laxity in my hips and the danger that presented to the baby and to myself.

Shortly after this time I met somebody with EDS who recommended I join her online support group. I joined the group, eventually going to the physical meetings and met others with this condition. This led to several people saying I needed to be evaluated. So, finally having hope of an explanation for why I had seriously messed up joints, I went and saw a neurologist who specialized in EDS.

EDS Diagnosis

He did a number of physical examinations that demonstrated my joint laxity and asked me a lot of questions. The appointment lasted well over an hour. At the end of it, I was diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Suddenly there was an explanation for all of those sprained ankles and wrists. There was an explanation for why my knees were so bad that coming home to an 18-step staircase seemed insurmountable some nights. It even explained other things. Because our intestines are also made of collagen, many people with EDS suffer with severe chronic constipation. Our guts don’t move. I saw a gastroenterologist and slowly started to make sense of things. That’s still an ongoing battle.

Pain Management

Resting from a flare of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.Since my diagnosis I’ve seen lots of specialists. I have to see pain management regularly because this is an extremely painful condition. It leads to having a lot of arthritis throughout your body, so holding your joints together hurts and the joints themselves hurt. It can be all-consuming. Good pain management is essential. That’s the thing that I would emphasize the most about this condition: if you have it and don’t have good pain management, do whatever you can to find it. Good pain management means the difference between being immobile for days versus having good and bad days. Yes, some of those bad days mean days spent in bed because the weather is bad and you are in a terrible flare. But it also means that there will be good days and you can go outside and enjoy the sunshine.

Physical Therapy and Bracing

The last thing that I would encourage people who think they may have this condition to be sure to look into is proper bracing. Physical therapy and bracing help reduce pain enormously. They also help reduce damage to the joints. I wear giant leg braces that go from mid-thigh to mid-calf so that I can walk safely. When I was first diagnosed I didn’t imagine my knees to be bad enough to need these giant braces. The person who assessed me for the braces laughed. It’s amazing what you learn to deal with when you don’t know any different.

Thanks to the EDS diagnosis, I now have splints on my fingers that make it use easier for me to use my hands; it’s easier to hold a fork without my hands cramping. I have thumb, wrist, ankle, and shoulder splints because they are pretty mangled from years of being a farm kid. That’s pretty much true for most my joints. Being a raucous farm kid did not make adulthood with EDS any easier, but was a good time when I was a kid. I’m glad I had those experiences when I was able to. But I would not try to climb a giant tree now!

Mental Health

It can be really isolating having a rare disease no one has ever heard about. It is extremely frustrating living through situations when all of the doctors who don’t know about it call you a hypochondriac. Even after diagnosis, physical therapy, braces, meds, the whole gambit, there will still be times spent in bed due to pain. It is isolating. It is depressing.

Being fully disabled young is not easy to cope with as an American, or probably for anyone. This is why we have online support groups like #Unchargeables. To make the hard times a little easier, to break the isolation, to find people with similar conditions and concerns. Support groups are vital. Therapy is also important and I encourage anyone who feels like they may need it to seek it. There is no shame in seeking out help.

For more information, visit The Ehlers-Danlos Society.

Dena writes about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome at The Unchargeables.Dena is a medical zebra, meaning she has at least one rare condition. She suffers from hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, mast cell activation syndrome, POTS, asthma, degenerative disc disease, systemic arthritis, TMJ, seasonal allergies, probably Sjögren syndrome, and possibly more. She was a rehabilitation counsellor and mental health counsellor for a number of years. Dena now volunteers with several support groups.

Listening to the Voices

There are a lot of voices that we hear throughout our lives. Voices that will speak words of joy, sadness, humor, encouragement, knowledge, frustration and various other things. We have the choice to decide which voices to listen to.

Recently, I was telling someone in my life about my progress in physical therapy. Since my surgery, I have fought an uphill battle and have struggled to regain motor skills and to walk. I have had some slight success since starting physical therapy. I am able to walk for very short distances now. I hope that within  a few months, walking will become a simple task. I poured my heart out to this person. I shared my joy and opened my heart, to which they replied, “You realize this isn’t an accomplishment right? Normal people get up and walk without a second thought. In fact, what’s sad is that you’re so ill now that you even consider being able to walk a few feet an accomplishment. It is not. Walking is normal human function.”

My heart was immediately crushed by their words. All the hours I had spent exercising my weak muscles, fighting back tears, gritting my teeth and pushing through were only to achieve what normal people can do easily. All of the sudden, I felt like I had achieved nothing. I felt small, I felt sick, I felt worthless.

But why?   Because I was listening to a voice that spoke negativity.

This person clearly had no understanding of how hard it was for the chronically ill. My little victory meant the world to me. Yes, normal people walk without  a second thought but that doesn’t take away from how hard I have strived to live again.

I will absolutely live again. I will walk again. I will get my life back, regardless of what the negative voices may say.

What lesson did I learn from this?

Some people have zero compassion or understanding. They speak words of negativity, hate and anger. These people will say anything to bring another person down.

You do not have to listen to these voices!

Cling to those voices that speak words of life, love and hope. Those are the voices that will cheer you on into your own victory.

No matter what you are facing, don’t let any voices tear you down.

Don’t let the voice in your head become your enemy either.

You are a warrior. You are strong. You can do ANYTHING!

Listen to the good voices and tell the bad ones to SHUT UP!

Fair- Where you get cotton candy!

One of the biggest challenges we face as “Unchargeables” is pain. Whether it’s from disease or injury- pain is an unfortunate part of our daily lives.  We have our good days and we have our bad days but pain is still reality for us.

My pain comes from my Medullary Sponge Kidney, where I make daily kidney stones, have kidney/bladder spasms and frequent infections. I also have all over muscle pain due to the lack of cortisol from Addison’s disease. This pain is what I classify as senseless pain. There is no healing going on, no purpose in it. It is just pain. It has no function other than the result of something that is wrong.

Recently I have discovered there is another form of pain. This pain is not senseless. This pain is for a reason.

Since starting physical therapy, I feel like I have been hit by a bus. But for the first time in months, I’m moving my body and out of bed!   My pain has increased, but I feel like this pain has a purpose. I hurt but I am getting stronger, building my muscle mass back and will be able to walk again!  Every painful exercise, stretch and movement will be worth it in the end.

That being said, the senseless pain will still be there whether I can walk again or not. Some days will still be rough.

My mind continues the dance between hope and despair over this reality.

The only thing I can do is create purpose within the senseless pain.

Unfair is not a strong enough word to describe chronic illness. I can remember my students whining to me saying “But that’s not fair!”  To which I would look at them and reply, “Fair is where you get cotton candy, that is the only place fair exists in life.”

Daily pain is not fair.

Chronic Illness is not fair.

Life, my friends is not fair.

Purpose is not found, it is created.

So I am choosing to create a purpose within the senseless pain.

Out of suffering comes compassion,

out of compassion comes love

and love can change the world!

I want to live in the focus of love and not my pain.

Backwards Pants and Physical Therapy

Yes, you read that right…..

Backwards pants.

Since my most recent relapse, I have developed an unfortunate amount of muscle atrophy. With the increased steroid dose and post surgery recovery, I have lost the ability to walk longer than 10 feet.

At 24 years old, I feel this is unacceptable. So this week I have started physical therapy!

I was very anxious going into my evaluation. My biggest fear was I would have some overbearing physical therapist that would not understand the dangers of adrenal insufficiency and I would end up in the hospital from being pushed too hard. I feared my body would crumble after being bedridden for six months. I feared another adrenal crisis.

The reality of my evaluation could not have been further from my fears. The physical therapist took an extensive history from me and assured me that we would proceed at my pace. She instructed me to let her know if I felt too stressed or too much pain. Upon reviewing my medication list, she informed me she had been placed on steroids for a few months and understood the struggles. She sympathized with me and expressed that she couldn’t imagine the fate of being on steroids for life. Her compassion was comforting.

My assessment astounded me with how much atrophy I have truly developed. I discovered my left side only has 30% range of motion and my leg muscles are only functioning at 3%. So it looks like I started physical therapy just in time.

The exercises she did with me were slightly painful, but I felt a sense of accomplishment to be moving again. I saw the true reality of my physical condition. I am weak now but I will get stronger.

She sent me home with an exercise regiment and I will see her twice a week for the next two months. I am very sore, but I  know that I am on the road to better function!

So where do the backward pants come in?

I got home, only to be told by my family that my black, stretchy yoga pants were on backwards and also inside out….drawstring and tag hanging out for all the world to see. I could not help but laugh. I am sure I made a great impression and appeared really intelligent with my backwards pants.

Lesson I learned today- I should not have been so anxious about physical therapy. I have the power to set limits and say no!

I also learned to check out what I am wearing BEFORE I leave the house.

Chronic illness warriors, we can’t be afraid to try new things for better health. If you know in your heart there is something you need to improve your life then GO FOR IT.

I was amazed at how one day of physical therapy gave me the hope that I will be able to walk again. There are tools and resources out there for people struggling with their health. I never thought I would have the need for physical therapy, but I am so glad it is an option.

If you feel out of control, let me just assure you that you have not exhausted every option. There is always hope, we just have to find it.

Here’s to better days of more function ahead!