Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

A minor injury often heals on its own, with proper care. If you think you've injured your rotator cuff, try these steps:

  • Rest your shoulder. Stop doing what caused the pain and try to avoid painful movements. Limit heavy lifting or overhead activity until your shoulder pain subsides.
  • Apply ice and heat. Putting ice on your shoulder helps reduce inflammation and pain. Use a cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes every three or four hours. After a few days, when the pain and inflammation have improved, hot packs or a heating pad may help relax tightened and sore muscles.
  • Take pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may be helpful.

Prevention

If you are at risk of rotator cuff injuries or if you've had a rotator cuff injury in the past, daily shoulder stretches and strengthening exercises can help prevent future injury.

Most people exercise the front muscles of the chest, shoulder and upper arm, but it is equally important to strengthen the muscles in the back of the shoulder and around the shoulder blade to optimize shoulder muscle balance. Your doctor or a physical therapist can help you plan an exercise routine.