The shoulder is capable of a versatile, wide range of motion. Most individuals use their shoulders for a good amount of their day-to-day movement, especially if they work a job involving manual labor. Problems with the shoulder can make it difficult to move freely, which in turn leads to discomfort and pain. Three main bones make up the shoulder joint, and all of them are cushioned by protective cartilage. The shoulder is the most mobile joint, and the range of motion comes from the rotator cuff, which is made up of four tendons. These tissues connect bone to muscles. Shoulder pain can be caused by a variety of problems, but issues with the rotator cuff are the most common. Certain diseases can also cause shoulder pain.
Pain medication can be used to help treat shoulder pain. Most patients don't need prescription-strength painkillers and can instead use over-the-counter medications at home. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen are the most common over-the-counter pain relievers. All of these medications can relieve pain related to muscle stiffness and aches, and they all reduce fever. However, only naproxen and ibuprofen can reduce inflammation. If an inflammatory condition is causing the shoulder pain, one of these will work better than acetaminophen.
Ibuprofen and naproxen are both nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, which work by reducing the body's ability to produce prostaglandins, the hormones that cause pain. Meanwhile, acetaminophen affects the brain's ability to interpret pain signals. If individuals are experiencing intense pain from an injury or ongoing condition, a doctor can give a patient prescription-strength anti-inflammatories. Ongoing use of anti-inflammatories for chronic conditions is discouraged because it increases the patient's risk of stroke and heart attack. They might also have a higher risk of bleeding and stomach ulcers.