How to Treat Shoulder Pain at Home With a Percussive Massager

As the most movable joint in the body, our shoulders have a wide range of motion. This is made possible by a group of four muscles and their tendons called the rotator cuff.

shoulder pain

We often forget about how much we rely on the mobility of our shoulders until we injure them, or until the aging process hits us hard.

When this happens, even the simplest of moves can feel extremely painful and difficult. Read on to find out about the symptoms and common causes of shoulder pain, and how a deep tissue massage gun can help.

Symptoms of shoulder pain

Though there may be different causes of shoulder pain, one might experience the following symptoms:

  • Reduced movement and pain when moving the shoulder
  • Weakness of the shoulder or upper arm
  • Pain deep within the shoulder joint, sometimes described as a “catching pain”
  • Tingling, burning sensations or “pins and needles”

Common causes of shoulder pain

intence shoulder pain

It’s fairly easy to injure the shoulder just by doing everyday things. Even something as simple as carrying heavy handbags on your shoulder or getting pulled by your dog’s leash can aggravate your shoulders.

Everyday activities aside, here are some of the common causes or underlying reasons for shoulder pain:

● Shoulder impingement syndrome

It is estimated that this syndrome is one of the most prevalent reasons why people seek treatment for their shoulder pain.

Shoulder impingement happens when the top outer edge of the shoulder rubs against, pinches or impinges on the rotator cuff rubs beneath it, resulting in swelling, further narrowing of the space and consequently, pain and irritation. 

● Rotator cuff tear or disorder

Though it is suggested that rotator cuff tears increase with age and may be aggravated by a smoking habit, the pain can simply arise from a trauma or injury and be acute, or it can be gradual and mild but steadily increasing.

Rotator cuff injury is also common in people who perform repetitive overhead and shoulder motions that can strain and stress the rotator cuff.

● Shoulder bursitis or tendinitis

Swelling or inflammation that occurs in a particular area within the shoulder joint are commonly linked to shoulder bursitis or tendinitis. It is often brought about by sports injuries, activities that require repetitive movements (such as baseball, swimming, tennis and golf), or from a sudden and serious injury.

shoulder stiffness

Both shoulder bursitis and tendinitis can cause pain and stiffness around the shoulder and may even exist together.

● Frozen shoulder

This condition, otherwise known as adhesive capsulitis, is characterized by pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. It typically develops slowly and in three stages (freezing, frozen and thawing). Each stage typically lasts for a few months.

For certain people, the pain that comes with a frozen shoulder might intensify at night, making it difficult for them to fall or stay asleep.

● Injuries and sprains

The ligaments that connect bones and provide stability to your shoulder can sometimes cause short-term pain due to an injury. This is usually caused by falling onto your outstretched arm or through repetitive motions.

A direct blow to the shoulder, such as the ones usually inflicted during contact sports like football or rugby can also cause sprains.

● Other causes

Problems with the joints and nerves associated with your neck and upper back, as well as injury to the axillary nerve can directly affect your shoulder.

Aside from that, shoulder pain can also be caused by other health problems such as osteoarthritis, gallstones, angina, heart attack or pneumonia.

Do note that if you feel pain radiating down your arm and are experiencing tightness across the chest as well as shortness of breath, consult your doctor immediately.

Treating shoulder pain with a percussion massager

Treating shoulder pain with a percussion massager

If you can’t find the time or prefer not to take the trouble of setting up a physiotherapy appointment, a more traditional at-home treatment would be a heat pack or ice compress on the affected area for 20 minutes and up to five times a day.

Heat can help relax tense muscles and soothe a stiff shoulder, while the cold treatment is ideal for reducing any swelling and has a numbing effect that makes your shoulder feel less painful.

However, some may find that constantly preparing the heat pack or ice compress can be a bit troublesome, and when used improperly, may cause more harm than good.

This is where a percussion massager can be a time- and cost-effective way to treat shoulder pain at home. On top of being convenient and easy to use, it doesn’t require any prep work — just a single charge can last for several hours, if not days.

How does a deep tissue massage gun work?

How does a deep tissue massage gun work?

It uses firm and fast pulses over a short amount of time to give the muscle fibres a deep tissue massage.

As it mimics the movements of a traditional massage, a percussion massager can reduce inflammation, increase circulation and relieve pain and soreness. It can also help relax tight muscles, making it a tool that can also offer a moment of relaxation while treating any discomfort.

How do I use it?

Most percussion massagers are easy to use. It allows users to switch it on and off by pressing a button for a few seconds, and then selecting the right speed that they would be comfortable with.

For example, the Hydragun has six different speeds for users to choose from, depending on their preference and tolerance. It also comes with six different attachment heads to accurately deliver a deep tissue massage to a specific area.

For shoulder pain in particular, however, an attachment like the ball or steel round head will be perfect for the job.

From there, all it takes is for the user to glide or float the massage gun along the affected area, back and forth for 2 minutes. At the end of the massage, some light stretches should be performed to further relax the muscles and improve mobility.

Things to remember

Shoulder pain is a common problem that can be caused by many different things, such as the result of an injury or fall, or the natural wear and tear that comes with age.

Rest easy because shoulder pain can easily be solved with appropriate treatments — one of the more effective one being a deep tissue massage gun.

However, if the pain persists and seems to worsen over time, be sure to contact your doctor as soon as possible.

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