When you have shoulder pain, over-the-counter pain medication may help. Your doctor also may prescribe pain relievers.

Pain medications may include substances that reduce inflammation (anti-inflammatories), as well as products that relieve pain but do not reduce inflammation. They include:

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are medications that reduce pain, fever, and inflammation. They may be prescribed by your physician or purchased over the counter. They may be taken orally, and are also available in creams. Your physician can recommend specific products to address your particular needs.

Over-the-counter NSAIDS

  • Over-the-counter NSAIDs medications include:
    • Ibuprofen. This NSAID is available in generic form and in brand-name products

Prescription anti-inflammatory medications include drugs called corticosteroids. The drugs block production of chemicals called prostaglandins that trigger inflammation and pain. They are available by prescription only.

They may be prescribed in two different forms:

  • Corticosteroid injections. These anti-inflammatory drugs are injected directly into the shoulder joint area to reduce inflammation. They are available by prescription only and will be administered by a healthcare professional
  • Corticosteroid medications. Corticosteroids also are available in medication form, by prescription only
    • If you are taking corticosteroids, always talk to your doctor first before discontinuing their use. Abrupt discontinuation of corticosteroid medications may have serious side effects

NonNSAIDS There are other over-the-counter pain medications that do not reduce inflammation. They include:

  • Acetaminophen. This pain reliever is available in generic form and in brand-name products

If pain persists and/or is severe, talk to your doctor.

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