Q:

How do you help arthritis pain in the upper back and shoulders?

A:

Quick Answer

When suffering upper back and shoulder pain, patients have several options for help, but the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons indicates over-the-counter medications, including anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers are helpful. Heat, ice, prescription medications, steroid injections and surgery are other options.

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Full Answer

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications include ibuprofen and naproxen, according to WebMD. These medications help to relieve swelling and the pain associated with it. Acetaminophen is a nonprescription pain reliever.

Applying moist heat or ice locally can help to stimulate the body's natural healing ability. Heat opens the blood vessels to increase blood flow and decrease muscle spasms. Cold constricts the blood vessels and numbs the pain. Some patients find relief through prescribed exercise programs that help to keep the joints flexible, according to WebMD.

If nonprescription medication is not effective at relieving the pain, a doctor sometimes prescribes different types of medication to provide help. Prescription pain relievers, muscle relaxants and antidepressants all have their place in reducing upper-back and shoulder pain from arthritis, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The medical care provider considers the source of the pain when selecting the appropriate medication.

Doctors use steroid injections for arthritis pain in the shoulders that does not respond to other attempts to bring relief, according to WebMD. If the pain involves nerve roots, surgery is sometimes necessary.

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