What Are the Treatments for a Pulled Shoulder Muscle?

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What Are the Treatments for a Pulled Shoulder Muscle?
Medications can help reduce pain and swelling from a pulled shoulder muscle. (Image by Fotolia.com, courtesy of Effie White)

Overuse or repetitive movements can cause a pulled shoulder muscle, or strain. A sudden impact or injury may also be responsible. See your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after a few days or if you suspect a more serious injury.

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Use the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) as soon as possible following a pulled shoulder muscle. Rest your shoulder, apply an ice pack for 15 minutes at a time every few hours, wrap the area with an elastic bandage and elevate your arm above your head.


You can apply a warm compress or heating pad following the RICE method to increase circulation in your shoulder and promote faster healing. Do not leave heating pads on for more than 30 minutes or fall asleep while using heat.


Over-the-counter pain relievers can bring relief for the pain of a pulled shoulder muscle. Acetaminophen works to relieve pain and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin, can relieve pain and swelling. Always take medications as directed.


You can gently massage your injured shoulder to keep blood flowing to the area and help heal and relax your muscle. Do not press too hard to avoid further injury and pain.


Always stretch and warm up before any physical activity to prevent the risk of injury. Avoid overusing one shoulder and maintain good posture. Always lift properly by bending at your knees to avoid excess shoulder strain.

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