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How is shoulder impingement syndrome treated?

The initial treatment of tendinitis or bursitis of the shoulder is designed to quiet the inflammation down and allow the body to heal itself. The basic principles of this form of treatment are the following:

Rest the shoulder. Your body is trying to tell you something, and the message is having a hard time getting through. Slowing down or stopping the activity that caused the shoulder pain in the first place will often relieve most of the symptoms. This usually means modifying your training regime, waiting a few months before hanging the rest of the wallpaper or painting the ceilings or changing to a lighter duty at work for a while. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to do if you depend upon overhead activities for a living, as do construction workers or baseball pitchers.

Quiet down the inflammation. Ice and anti-inflammatory medications can do wonders. Cooling your shoulder with ice packs helps to reduce swelling and inflammation as well as relieve pain. Most people also obtain a significant amount of relief from a course of anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen (which is sold as Advil® or Motrin®), Tylenol®, Naproxen, Clinoril®, or Feldene® (to name just a few). These medications, which are called NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) by doctors, act by stopping the body from making certain chemicals that are part of the inflammatory process. In order to have the most effect they have to be taken regularly, according to the recommended schedule for each medication.

Occasionally, people suffer from stomach upset, heartburn, and irritation of the lining of the stomach (all of which are referred to as "gastritis" by doctors) when they take NSAIDs. Individuals who are particularly vulnerable may develop gastric ulcers, which are very serious and can be quite severe. It is very important to tell your doctor if you are suffering from an upset stomach while taking anti-inflammatory medications. Health food supplements, such as chondroitin sulfate and glucosamines, are currently very popular with people who suffer from arthritis and inflammation of their joints. This is also true with patients who have shoulder problems. These medications have not been studied enough that doctors fully understand their advantages and disadvantages, but in general, they appear to have anti-inflammatory-like effects and are very well tolerated by most patients.

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Advil is a registered trademark of American Home Products
Clinoril is a registered trademark of Merck & Co., Inc.
Feldene is a registered trademark of Pfizer Inc.
Motrin is a registered trademark of Johnson & Johnson Corporation
Tylenol is a registered trademark of McNeil Consumer Brands, Inc.



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