Gelpacks for shoulder pain

Emanuele Mortarotti in
27 April 2022

What should you use when you have shoulder pain? The benefits of heat or cold?

How can a gelpack help if you are suffering from arthritis, tendinitis, or joint hypermobility?

Sacco Caldo Freddo Spalla

What should you use when you have shoulder pain? The benefits of heat or cold?

How can a gelpack help if you are suffering from arthritis, tendinitis, or joint hypermobility?

Today on the Dispotech blog we’ll try to answer these and other questions, supported by an article read on Have a great read!


We’ve all experienced joint pain: some is temporary, while other is chronic and disabling and requires regular treatment. Shoulder pain may have many causes, from a simple pulled muscle in the gym to more dangerous conditions indicating, for example, an ectopic pregnancy. It is therefore very important to be able to find out what has caused the shoulder pain and whether immediate medical attention is required or relief can be found using cold or warm gelpacks.

Shoulder pain (as well as other types of joint pain) can be treated with either heat or ice. But how to choose between the two solutions when you’re in need? Here’s a short guide.


When should you use heat for shoulder pain?

The effect of heat increases blood flow, therefore heat facilitates better blood circulation and is useful for pain that causes stiffness, muscle spasms and problems such as arthritis. When you apply a warm gelpack, the brain receives a precise signal: the pain tends to subside because our entire body relaxes. Remember to use a warm gelpack only after it has been carefully wrapped in a soft, dry cloth: contact between the skin and a too hot pack could give you an unpleasant burn.


When should you use the benefits of cold or ice for shoulder pain?

You may have been watching a football match or any other contact sport when, after an impact or fall, the medical team runs to the injured person with ice packs or an ice spray. Why does this happen? After a sprain, contusion, or a sudden heavy blow, the body tends to allow more blood to flow to the aching area to heal it. However, blood and fluids can cause swelling in the injured parts, cause inflammation or, worse, flow out. Ice acts to slow blood circulation and inhibits the feeling of pain, providing immediate relief.

As far as shoulder pain is concerned, cold has the ability to numb the nerves, so an ice-cold gelpack or icepack is perfect for treating momentary discomfort. When using a cold pack, remember to use a soft cloth or towel to protect your skin: ice burns exist, too, you know!


The general rule to remember is: a cold pack reduces swelling, a warm pack improves joint mobility.

These indications, of course, are intended to remedy minor injuries or discomfort. We recommend that you consult your physician if you have any doubts or questions. If the shoulder pain does not disappear after a couple of weeks or if you experience sudden and intense pain, seek medical advice immediately.


There are specific conditions that can cause shoulder pain: here are the most common ones and how to treat them.

Arthritis. Arthritis is a health problem caused by wear on the cartilage in the joints. Arthritis sufferers experience pain in tendons and ligaments - which must 'work' harder to move.

For this type of problem you might alternate ice and heat therapy depending on the pain you’re experiencing: if you feel joint stiffness, use heat. If your shoulder feels swollen and hot, use an ice-cold gelpack.

Hypermobile shoulders. Joint hypermobility occurs when certain joints are able to extend beyond their normal physiological limits. This condition can also affect the shoulder, which, due to hypermobility, can be subject to sprains or can even come out of its natural position. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition, but the pain can be kept under control with heat. Consult a physiotherapist: a trusted professional will be able to recommend exercises that are useful for strengthening shoulder muscles.

Tendinitis. This condition is caused by inflammation of the tendons and is common when the same movement (e.g. using a computer mouse) is repeated over and over. Of course, tendinitis can also affect the shoulders and use of ice packs to reduce the swelling and provide relief is recommended. Avoid heat sources (radiators, too hot showers, etc.) as much as possible.

Shoulder pain during pregnancy. A woman’s body undergoes extraordinary changes to accommodate the new life inside her. Weight gain affects joint function, hormonal changes affect the muscles in preparation for childbirth. A pregnant woman is therefore more prone to muscle strains or sprains. A warm gelpack, carefully wrapped in a cloth, can be used to relieve pregnancy pains.

On the other hand, if a pregnant woman feels an unusual pain at the point where the shoulder ends and the arm begins, she should pay attention: it may be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy. If this happens, you should see your doctor or go to an emergency room as soon as possible.


We hope you find these tips useful! What do you think about this article? Have your say by contacting Dispotech.