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Nonsurgical options

Explore nonsurgical ways to reduce your pain. Your pain can be dramatically decreased in several ways before you decide to have surgery. Discuss each nonsurgical option with your primary care doctor to determine which are best for your specific needs. 


There are a number of medications that can help with your pain. Discuss the risks and benefits of each pain medication with your doctor to determine which one is best for you.


  • Tylenol, which is also called Acetaminophen, is generally a safe medication (unless you have liver disease) 
  • Dosing should be limited to 3 grams or 3,000 milligrams per day, which is up to 6 extra strength Tylenol per day or 4 Extended Release Tylenol per day
  • If you have any questions about the dosing, speak with your doctor or pharmacist


  • Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Aleve, Naprosyn, Celebrex, Mobic, and many others
  • These medications relieve inflammation and pain in an injured shoulder and can be very effective
  • Can be taken on a regular basis or occasionally, as needed
  • Risks can include: stomach upset, bleeding in your stomach or bowels, kidney injury, and elevation in blood pressure
  • Take these medications only as prescribed and do not increase the dose without speaking to your doctor
  • If you are on these medications for several months, ask your doctor about checking your blood work to monitor your kidney function and blood pressure


Your doctor may recommend injections directly into your shoulder. The purpose of an injection is to reduce irritation and inflammation caused by your injury.

Corticosteroid Injections:

  • About half to two-thirds of patients find these injections relieve their pain
  • Pain relief will last anywhere from several weeks to 6 months or more
  • Some patients will not have any improvement after an injection
  • Injections are typically performed in the office and do not interfere with your ability to drive home

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is often the first option for treatment. It can help improve the flexibility and strength in your shoulder, and teach you the best way to move your shoulder and arm to prevent further injury.

Lifestyle changes

To have the best outcome or results from your surgery, it is important that you are as healthy as possible. There are several lifestyle changes that will help.

  • If you smoke or use any tobacco products, please quit.
  • Achieve a healthy weight. Being a healthy weight will benefit you in many ways, both in your daily living and related to your surgery.

Smoking cessation

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) lists these positive changes when you stop using tobacco products:

  • Decrease your risk of a heart attack and stroke
  • Reduce your risk of pneumonia
  • Improve your body’s ability to heal your wounds and decrease your risk of postoperative infection
  • Improve your body's ability to heal the tendon repair

How to get started:

  • Talk to your family doctor and check your health insurance benefits.  They can help with aids and counseling
  • Talk with family members and friends. If they know how important this is to you, they can help provide support and assistance. 
  • Along with program support provided by your health insurance, check for assistance from your employer. 

Smoking Cessation Resources: 

Phone Numbers:

  • PA Free Quitline 
    1-800-QUITNOW  (1-800-784-8669)
  • American Cancer Society Quitline


Mobile Apps:

Group Counseling:

  • Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center   

Weight loss

Being a healthy weight will benefit you in many ways, both in your daily living and related to your surgery.

Being overweight increases your risk for:

  • Skin healing problems
  • Infection
  • Blood clots in your legs or to your lungs
  • Heart problems

Weight loss can be difficult and takes both healthy eating and increased activity, which can be as easy as increasing the amount of walking that you do daily.

To get started:

  • Let your family and friends know you are working on eating healthy and increasing your activity. They can help partner with you.
  • Contact your family doctor for help.
  • Check your health insurance benefits. Many health plans pay for sessions with a nutritionist, diet teaching/support groups, or gym memberships.

Remember, safe weight loss is a slow, gradual process, of 1 to 1 ½ pounds of weight loss a week and takes changing long time habits and your lifestyle. It can be an up and down process but will be worth it as you begin to feel better and become more active.