Effective exercises to relieve shoulder pain

Suffering from fatigue, pain, swelling, stiffness, and warmth in your shoulder? You are likely to have arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation defines arthritis as “an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint diseases,” which is most prevalent among women, and the probability of developing it rises as we age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people diagnosed with arthritis each year is alarmingly on the rise. It is estimated that by 2040, 78 million Americans will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.

Arthritis can appear in different parts of the body, including elbows, hips, knees, fingers, and other joints. The shoulder joint is one of the most common joints affected by arthritis. Read on to find more about arthritis of the shoulder and some home shoulder pain exercises to relieve shoulder pain.

Muslim girl doing shoulder stretch to relieve her shoulder pain

Shoulder stretches can alleviate your shoulder pain.

Arthritis of the shoulder

Arthritis usually comes with the feeling of pain in joints or flares of inflammation. Shoulder joints are among the most susceptible parts of the body to arthritis, and it usually develops with damages to the cartilage inside your shoulder.

Shoulder arthritis develops in different stages:

  1. The surface of the cartilage gets soft
  2. It starts breaking, and some cracks appear on its surface
  3. It split up into fibrils
  4. The whole cartilage erodes away, exposing the surface of the bone beneath it.

The speed of development can be fast; however, the intensity of pain entirely depends on the amount of pressure placed on your shoulders.

Symptoms of shoulder arthritis

  1. Pain: Joint pain is the most common chronic symptom of shoulder arthritis. Night pain and anemia are among the side effects of shoulder arthritis, which is generally reported by patients. The excruciating pain limits the smooth movement of muscles as well as activities that intensify the pain.
  1. Loss of motion: People usually complain about a loss of ability to move their shoulders, which could result in stiffness of muscles. Depending on the type of shoulder arthritis, it may also become a burden for you to lift your hand, to do your hair, or to reach something in the cupboard.
  2. Grinding (also called crepitus): The feeling of grinding in your shoulder is yet another symptom of shoulder arthritis. The root cause of such an anomaly is because of the friction of bones. You may hear the sound of clicking, snapping, or grinding when moving your hand.

All in all, shoulder arthritis could easily interrupt your daily routines. The insidious progress of arthritis may lead to serious motion limitations and ensuing acute pain. But, early diagnosis and better treatment could help curtail its growth and ease the pain.


There are two types of treatment: non-surgical and surgical.

  1. Non-surgical treatments for shoulder pain

The first remedy suggested for shoulder arthritis is non-surgical. By acting upon the following suggestions and tips, you can alleviate your shoulder pain and strengthen the muscles around your shoulder.

  • Range of motion exercises for shoulder pain

The first non-surgical option for shoulder pain is range of motion exercises, which can improve the mobility of your shoulder. You can do these simple workouts for four or five minutes a day. They help to promote the flexibility, strengthen, and balance of your joints and also alleviate your pain.

  • Pendulum exercise (Codman’s exercises)
  1. Use your unaffected hand and lean over a chair or a table.
  2. Let your painful arm hang straight down and swing it freely at your side.
  3. Move it to form a circle, but do not use your shoulder muscles. Instead, use gravity to control its movement. Keep the circle as small as 6 or 7 inches.
  4. Repeat this exercise 3 times per day
  • Cross over arm stretch
  1. Stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Gently raise the damaged arm and pull it across your chest while coming in toward the chest slightly. Don’t put any pressure on your shoulder.
  3. Hold it for 30 seconds and then relax
  4. Repeat 3 times for each arm
  • Towel shoulder stretch
  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Hold one end of the towel with your right hand
  3. Raise and then bend your right arm to drape the towel down your back
  4. Reach behind your back with the other hand and grasp the towel
  5. Slowly move the towel down to stretch your right shoulder
  6. Repeat the position 3 or 5 times
  7. Reverse the position and do the same for the opposite shoulder
  • Wall walking or crawl
  1. Stand facing a wall so that your fingers could touch the wall
  2. Start crawling up the wall with your fingers. Go as high as you can do it comfortably
  3. Hold the position for about 15 minutes and crawl your fingers down
  4. Repeat the exercise 3 or 5 times
  • Wall push-up
  1. Stand facing a wall. Your feet should be a little wider than your shoulder-width apart. Your palms should easily touch the wall, and make sure that your feet are planted on the floor. Also, tighten the muscles of your stomach.
  2. Put the palm of your hands against the wall and bend your elbow while leaning the upper part of your body toward the wall for a count of four (very slowly).
  3. After 3 seconds, push yourself back till your arms become straight.

Also read: 4 amazing exercises that help you get through knee pain fast

  • Yoga

Doing yoga is a great way that helps you not only relax after daily hassles, but it also increases the flexibility of your joints. Yoga enables you to increase your muscle mass and strength. Try to do it regularly because it reduces the strain on your muscles and boosts your balance.

  • Aerobics

Regular aerobic activities such as walking and swimming could improve the function of your muscles.

  • Take a rest

Avoid carrying heavy loads using your shoulder joint. Try to achieve a balance between doing exercise and taking a rest. Although it is essential to keep your shoulder active, bear in mind to steer clear of any painful movement.

  1. Surgical alternative for shoulder arthritis

You may have tried all the non-surgical methods, but you see no significant improvement. The last-ditch attempt to put an end to this problem would be  shoulder replacement surgery. Shoulder Joint surgery can relieve your pain and improve your shoulder mobility. There are different types of arthritis surgeries. Depending on your age and condition, your doctor can choose the best one.

Deciding to undergo surgery is really demanding and requires careful consideration. We are here to help by giving you detailed information and introducing the best orthopedic surgeons in Iran.

The solutions mentioned are highly recommended for people who are suffering from arthritis. However, these treatments might not work for all patients. It entirely depends on the type and the intensity of the arthritis.