Anti-inflammatory drugs and over-the-counter pain relievers can relieve shoulder pain, and applying ice to the shoulder is effective as well, according to MedlinePlus. Sudden and severe shoulder pain can also be a sign of an emergency that requires medical assistance.
Some causes of shoulder pain are arthritis or bursitis, which are both conditions in which tissue has become inflamed. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are effective at relieving this kind of shoulder pain, notes MedlinePlus. They are available orally in the form of ibuprofen or in the form of an injection at a health care provider's office.
Other causes of shoulder pain are overuse, dislocation of the shoulder, a shoulder separation, overexertion of tendons, tears to the rotator cuff tendons, or a broken shoulder bone. Putting ice on the shoulder in 15-minute intervals for segments of a few hours for two to three days can alleviate pain from these issues, according to MedlinePlus.
The majority of causes for shoulder pain are not life threatening, as indicated by MedlinePlus. In some rare instances, acute shoulder pain that arises suddenly is a sign of a heart attack. If pain extends from the chest to the left jaw, immediate emergency medical help is necessary.