Chronic shoulder pain can stem from a long list of causes, from arthritis and bursitis to rotator cuff tears and adhesions in the joint. But many of the most common treatments for shoulder pain are the same. Here’s a look at some of the ways people with shoulder pain try to fix it and why these “solutions” don’t really work long-term. There is another option though, and we’ll explain this innovative alternative — one your doctor may not have told you about because it’s so new.
Common Treatments for Chronic Shoulder Pain
Rest and slings
Resting the shoulder joint isn’t a very practical answer when the pain is there every day, for months or years on end. However, this method is good when you first sustain an injury to protect the joint until you can get diagnosed and treated. Using a sling can provide more immobilization of the joint and keep your arm from aggravating it by pulling downward.
Heat and ice
Likewise, heat and ice are better for new injuries or when you push too hard with an old injury or chronic condition like arthritis. Ice stops swelling, while heat relieves muscle tension. They are usually better in combination with each other.
Shoulder pain can be caused by poor posture, whether from sitting improperly at your desk, hunching over your mobile device, or standing slumped over. Working on your posture, such as standing taller and checking yourself in a mirror or getting a more supportive office chair, can help. You don’t want to let this kind of shoulder pain go on for too long, though, as the longer you indulge in bad posture, the more your pain can become chronic.
Changing your mattress and pillows
Many people have shoulder pain that develops from sleeping on the wrong kind of mattress and using pillows that don’t offer enough support. It can help your pain if you switch to a firmer or more cushioned mattress, depending on what you need. Also, you want to make sure you have pillows that cradle your head and neck correctly for sleeping on your back or side (stomach sleeping is terrible for your neck, back, and shoulders). There are even pillows on the market now that give you space to place your arm when side sleeping to take pressure off your shoulder.
Exercise and physical therapy
Gentle exercise, particularly when directed by a physical therapist, can help with some types of shoulder pain. Exercise can build strength, flexibility, and balance in the joint, and when done carefully, help break down some adhesions and scar tissue that limit mobility. But sometimes exercise can exacerbate shoulder problems, so it’s best to be careful until you consult with a healthcare professional.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical treatment that uses tiny needles in predetermined spots on the body to block pain. It’s great for temporary pain relief, but it’s more like a non-pharmaceutical alternative to medications: you have to keep doing it to get the relief you need.
Massage improves circulation, helps the body release pain-killing endorphins, and relieves muscle tension. Therefore, it’s helpful for certain types of shoulder pain, as long as you are in the hands of a professional who knows how not to make your pain worse. It won’t cure your shoulder pain, but it can sometimes reduce pain and joint stiffness.
Many doctors recommend medications for their patients with shoulder pain, whether over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription painkillers and antidepressants, which sometimes help with chronic pain. However, these medications, considered “conservative treatments,” only provide short-term relief and they can have many downsides, including:
- Side effects like acid reflux, liver damage, increased risk of heart attack, and elevated blood pressure
- Expense, especially if not covered by insurance
- Possibility of addition (physical and psychological)
- Difficulty withdrawing from them
Cortisone shots can offer relief for anywhere from a month to about three months. They’re particularly helpful for bursitis, but they aren’t a long-term solution for pain. You can’t keep injecting cortisone every few months (even if you can afford it). It’s best to help you bridge the time between an injury and other therapies until you get more lasting relief.
Surgery should be a last-ditch attempt to resolve shoulder pain when other methods have failed and pain is having a major impact on your life. Aside from the expense and significant downtime, surgery can be risky while under anesthesia and in initial recovery. Sometimes surgery doesn’t work, or you have to have a subsequent operation for more relief or to correct a problem brought on by the first surgery. Not much of a solution, is it?
Regenerative Medicine: An Alternative Treatment for Shoulder Pain
What is regenerative medicine?
Regenerative medicine is a new type of treatment that utilizes your body’s own healing mechanisms to reduce pain and restore mobility to the shoulder joint. With this treatment, exosomes, which are similar to stem cells but from a more ethical source, are injected into the joint.
Exosomes jump-start your body’s healing, sending the right kinds of cells to the area to prevent pain, boost immunity, and in some cases, regrow tissue for joint lubrication and flexibility.
What are the benefits of regenerative medicine?
You will find the advantages of regenerative medicine far outweigh other treatments, such as those listed above. Here are just a few benefits:
- It’s safer than medications and surgery.
- It provides long-term healing, as your cells keep renewing once the process is started, with the results lasting up to several years at a time.
- It can be used on multiple joints of the body for many different types of injuries and conditions.
- It combines well with other holistic treatments, such as managing gut flora and hormones through functional medicine.
- It has promise to treat other types of concerns, ranging from diabetes to cancer.
Regenerative medicine can even be less expensive than other treatment methods, even though it is not currently covered by most health insurance plans. Once you add up repeat doctor visits, deductibles, copayments, and out-of-pocket costs, especially at the pharmacy, you may actually pay more using conventional short-term fixes than for regenerative medicine. It’s a therapy that gets at the root of your pain and doesn’t use a band-aid approach to treating you.
Is regenerative medicine a possible treatment for your shoulder pain?
It’s easy to discover if regenerative medicine is the right fix for your chronic shoulder pain. Book an initial consultation with Regener Wave Clinic to review your unique case. We’ll go over your medical history and perform a physical exam, as well as take any necessary images, to see what’s going on. From there, we can formulate a treatment plan together if you are a good candidate for regenerative medicine with exosomes.