Nonsurgical Shoulder Treatments

Shoulder Injections, Physical Therapy

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The first treatments your Duke shoulder specialist recommends likely will be conservative, nonsurgical options. For some conditions -- such as a fracture, bursitis, frozen shoulder, tendonitis, or mild to moderate osteoarthritis -- nonsurgical treatments may be the only ones you need.

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Conservative Shoulder Treatments

We provide a wide range of nonsurgical treatments to reduce your pain and restore your function, including:


These range from over-the-counter pain relievers to prescription-strength anti-inflammatory medications, oral steroids, and non-narcotic pain relievers. They may include topical ointments as well as medications you take by mouth.

Cortisone Injections

Steroid medication is injected directly into the affected joint space, bursa, or area around an inflamed tendon. The goal is to reduce inflammation and pain. For some injections, the doctor may use ultrasound to guide the needle to the proper location.

Platelet-Rich-Plasma (PRP), Stem-Cell Therapy

Both of these emerging therapies involve harvesting specific types of cells from your body, concentrating them, and injecting them directly into your shoulder joint, bursa, or tendon sheath. While some early results are promising, the benefits have not yet been proven, and they remain under study. Insurance generally does not cover them. 

Our Orthopaedic Clinics

Duke Health orthopaedic clinics are located throughout the Triangle. Find one near you. In-person and virtual appointments are available.

Activity Modification
Your shoulder or sports medicine specialist may be able to advise you on how to modify your activities to reduce your pain or your risk of re-injury.

Physical Therapy

Many of our physical therapists specialize in shoulder injuries. They focus on exercises that strengthen your shoulder muscles, lessen pain, restore movement, and reduce your chance of re-injury.

Best Orthopaedic Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our orthopaedics program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

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This page was medically reviewed on 01/24/2022 by