Pain can feel all-consuming, especially pain in an area of your body you use frequently, like the shoulder. Using conventional pain medication can provide momentary relief, but when it comes to lasting results, nothing beats natural supplements for shoulder pain.
Supplements for shoulder pain can come in many different forms – and not all of them are pills!
You can incorporate shoulder pain supplements through your diet, as creams, and in liquid form. Today, we’ll explore a few of these supplements, how they can help with shoulder pain, and when you can expect to feel results.
A quick note before we dive in: Some supplements for shoulder pain can interact poorly with medication. Adding a supplement to your diet should be done under the supervision of your medical team to make sure there are no adverse side effects.
You’ll also want to make sure that you focus on one supplement at a time. Otherwise, it’ll be hard to tell which supplements are actually making you feel better. You should give any supplement a trial run of a few weeks to see how your body feels before you add anything new.
But what if you can’t bring yourself to wait that long for relief? That’s where pain relief medication comes in.
Instant relief vs supplements for shoulder pain
There are many different causes of shoulder pain, and treatment will be slightly different for each one. No matter why your shoulder is hurting, though, you won’t always have the luxury of waiting to feel better.
Intense pain while doing simple tasks to work or care for yourself is unsustainable. And while physical therapy can be a helpful and necessary part of your healing, sessions can sometimes cause extra soreness.
While you’re waiting to feel the effects of your supplements for shoulder pain, it’s worth exploring some instant relief options. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) medications like ibuprofen are standbys for a reason.
They can provide nearly instant, powerful pain relief, but there’s a catch. Overusing NSAIDs can cause them to lose their effectiveness and even cause liver failure. This means that while they’re helpful in the short term, they can’t be a long-term solution to any kind of shoulder pain.
For that, you’ll need to look to natural supplements for shoulder pain, which can support your body’s ability to heal itself. As your body heals itself, the source of the pain disappears, and you no longer have to work as hard to manage the pain itself.
10 natural shoulder pain supplements to try
There seems to be a thousand different vitamins and supplements on the market. Feeling overwhelmed or worrying that someone is taking advantage of your pain is totally normal. The good news is that there are ways to tell when a supplement is worth looking into.
First, avoid blends as much as possible. Aside from potentially paying for ingredients you don’t need, this also plays into the problem we mentioned earlier. If you’re taking several supplements for shoulder pain at one time, how do you know what’s working?
Next, look into the ingredients themselves before you look into any specific brands. Active ingredients have likely been included in different scientific studies or are currently being used by hospitals and private practices. And that leads into the third thing to look for: studies.
Supplement brands that are in it to provide quality nutrition and pain relief will help to fund and participate in scientific studies. These studies measure the effectiveness of different ingredients and brands so we understand how the body heals itself more thoroughly.
Check for these things when you’re considering collagen for arthritis, glucosamine-chondroitin for healing after an injury, or anything in between.
Here are our favorite supplements to help with your shoulder pain:
1. Topical capsaicin cream
To start, let’s look at one of the only topical shoulder pain supplements out there: capsaicin. You might know it better as “IcyHot”, “Capsagel”, “Therapatch”, or by several other brands. These topical ointments contain capsaicin, the same chemical compound that makes spicy foods spicy.
Using these creams as supplements for shoulder pain is a natural way to provide relief for conditions like frozen shoulder. When it comes to how to treat frozen shoulder, using heat – temperature or chemical – to relax the ligaments and muscles is key. The heat in capsaicin can help your muscles relax over time, and may even feel warm upon application when you first use it.
You’ll want to apply capsaicin creams 3-4 times a day, and can expect to feel relief in about 4-6 weeks.
2. Vitamins A, C, E, D, and K
These next few supplements for shoulder pain can all be included as part of your normal diet – no pills required here, either!
Increasing your intake of antioxidant vitamins can help your body fight inflammation. There’s just one problem: You likely have at least a slight vitamin deficiency. For instance, as many as 95% of people in the US are deficient in vitamin D.
When your body is vitamin-deficient, its ability to heal and protect itself dramatically diminishes.
These vitamins also impact your body’s ability to absorb and synthesize important vitamins, minerals, and proteins – like collagen – that are vital to the healing process.
If you’re taking collagen for shoulder pain, it’s important that you also ensure you get plenty of vitamins A, C, and E to help your body absorb and process it.
Many parts of the shoulder, and cartilage in particular, are naturally very slow to heal. Why is cartilage slow to heal? Simply put, it doesn’t contain enough blood vessels to carry healing nutrients through it, so even if you supplement with healing collagen, it can take a long time to work.
Including fresh fruits and veggies, especially leafy greens and citrus, into your diet regularly can help you prevent injury and soothe chronic pain in your shoulder. It typically takes 8-12 weeks of consistent incorporation to recover from a vitamin deficiency.
3. Fish oil
Fish oil is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have been linked to heart health, circulatory health, and reduced inflammation, making them excellent natural supplements for shoulder pain.
Eating foods like cold water fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and leafy greens regularly can help you increase omega-3s through your diet, though a higher dose produces more measurable results.
To get the best results, you should take 1,000 mg of fish oil daily. Results can be in as little as 6 weeks or as long as 6 months.
Turmeric is naturally high in a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties similar to NSAIDs. Turmeric on its own isn’t quite high enough in this compound to provide measurable relief, so taking curcumin shoulder pain supplements is the way to go.
When you’re using curcumin supplements for shoulder pain, aim for 1,000 mg a day and expect symptoms to improve within 8-12 weeks.
5. Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables
What are avocado and soybean unsaponifiables (ASU)? Besides a mouthful to pronounce, ASUs are extracts made from the fruits and seeds of avocados and soybeans.
Most people are aware that these foods are good for them, but these specific extracts have some incredible health benefits. ASUs have potent anti-inflammatory effects, and supplementing with them has been shown to increase the amount of collagen in the body.
Collagen is a versatile protein that forms the foundation of many of our muscles, ligaments, tendons, and even our bones. Any supplement that can help your body process or increase collagen are great supplements for shoulder pain because collagen is so key to healing.
ASUs are still being explored, but current data suggests 300 mg a day can show some improvement at around 3-6 months of daily supplementation.
Unfortunately, those benefits seem to fall off at about 2 years, so ASUs as shoulder pain supplements are best for dealing with mild or short-term pain.
Boswellia is most commonly known as Indian frankincense, and it, too, has surprisingly strong anti-inflammatory effects.
Boswellia works as an anti-inflammatory supplement by suppressing your body’s formation of Leukotrienes, an inflammatory molecule your body produces during asthma attacks or when you come into contact with something you’re allergic to.
Even people without allergies or asthma have leukotrienes in their body, and an excess of these molecules can increase pain. If your shoulder pain is caused by a chronic condition like osteoarthritis or tendinitis, excess leukotrienes can add to existing inflammation.
If you’re using boswellia supplements for shoulder pain, be sure not to take NSAIDs at the same time to prevent negative effects.
The research around boswellia is limited, but if you’re interested in trying it, current studies show that it’s effective in doses of 100-250 mg for about 4 weeks.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are two compounds naturally found in your cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.
Many people take collagen for ligaments, tendons, and cartilage, since all of these structures are primarily made of collagen. Collagen is a protein, and it’s the foundation of ligaments, tendons, and cartilage, while glucosamine-chondroitin is a sugar, and acts more as support beams.
The research on glucosamine-chondroitin is limited, but current studies suggest that a dose of 210-250 mg/kg a day can aid in healing tendons over a period of 6-12 weeks.
If you’re considering glucosamine-chondroitin supplements for shoulder pain caused by a rotator cuff injury, it may be worth a shot!
S-adenosyl-methionie (SAMe) is an amino acid. Amino acids are naturally occurring compounds in food that all living things use to make proteins. SAMe is an essential amino acid, meaning it’s one of only a few compounds your body can’t make on its own.
SAMe is used by your body to maintain cell structures, but it’s also active in the way your body breaks down and processes serotonin and dopamine, often referred to as “happy” chemicals, in your brain.
Several existing studies show that SAMe is as effective as NSAIDs. When it comes to using SAMe as supplements for shoulder pain, dosages are usually recommended in the range of 600-1,200 mg daily.
Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapples that breaks apart the chains of amino acids, causing them to break down faster than they would ordinarily.
Bromelain can potentially reduce the body’s inflammatory response by covering up the cell receptors that would kick start it. This is where its use among supplements for shoulder pain comes in.
Current studies have been on osteoarthritis, specifically, but these show that 100-150 mg daily can show results in between 10 days and 3 weeks of treatment.
Collagen for shoulder pain can help whether you have a chronic condition or are recovering from an injury due to its unique role in the body.
One study on osteoarthritis patients found collagen can show results in as little as 14 days at just 720mg (7.2 grams) daily. Another showed that collagen supports recovery from tendon injuries in doses of 5-15 grams a day.
Collagen is what your body uses to heal the connective tissues in your shoulder, so if you have an injury or issue with your shoulder cartilage, tendons, or ligaments, collagen can actively work to heal and strengthen those tissues. (Instead of simply reducing inflammation like other supplements on this list).
Collagen is one of the few supplements for shoulder pain that can benefit your whole body. The rich amino acid profile in collagen gives your body the support it needs to do what it does best: heal.
The best supplements for shoulder pain
The number one supplement for shoulder pain just has to be collagen. But not all supplements are created equally. To ensure your supplement is effective, you want to look for a hydrolyzed collagen supplement that has no additives and plenty of glowing reviews.
Hydrolyzed collagen is the best collagen for joints because the molecules have been broken down into smaller pieces that are easier for your body to absorb and utilize in your shoulder joint.
Using hydrolyzed collagen protein to treat shoulder pain caused by chronic illness or injury can reduce inflammation and support healing so you can get back to the things you love most.