What OTC medicine is recommended for shoulder pain?

Monique D. May, MD
Family Medicine
For shoulder pain that develops after an acute injury (such as during sports or after a fall), OTC anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen and naproxen are usually fine to take for 7-10 days for the average healthy person.  However, if one has coronary artery disease (heart attacks, stents, or bypass surgery), he or she should consult his or her personal physician.  Similarly if one takes aspirin to prevent heart disease, he should talk with his doctor.  People who have had stomach ulcers should also see a physician since these medicines can worsen the condition and lead to bleeding.  If shoulder pain lasts for more than 2-4 weeks or if it associated with neurological symptoms such as numbness, weakness, or night pain, consult your physician. Acetominophen, although a pain reliever, doesn't provide the anti-inflammatory effect that is usually needed for soft tissue injuries.
Sreeram Gonnalagadda, MD
Family Medicine
Before any medicine you should ice the joint and rest the joint. Medication-wise, if you are a healthy individual with no other medical problems, then taking naproxen/ibuprofen will help. Generics are as good as brand names most of the time. The above medications are known to give you heartburn-like symptoms and interact with a few other prescription medications, so ask your physician before using them. Acetaminophen will help with the pain as well and in general is better tolerated than ibuprofen and naproxen in certain individuals. Also available are sprays and ointments which usually have menthol in them and help the pain quickly. Also, wrapping up the joint should help. If the pain doesn’t improve within 1-2 weeks consult a physician.
Jaspal R. Singh, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Before you take any medication, even over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, it is important to see a doctor to determine what’s causing your shoulder pain. Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate pain medication after performing a physical examination and asking questions about your health history.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.