What is it?

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint which has a wide range of motion. It consists of bone, cartilage and ligaments, shoulder pain may be the cause of injury to any of them. Risk factors may include manual labor, playing sports, and repetitive movement as well as systemic diseases which affect the nerves going up to the shoulder. The most common cause is rotator cuff tendinitis, which refers to a condition that is characterized by inflammation and swelling of the tendons. Diagnosis is based upon findings from medical history and physical examination. Further evaluation may include imaging tests. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and may include physical therapy, rest, shoulder immobilizer, non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, steroids and even shoulder surgery.

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Signs & symptoms

Unless you’ve had a serious injury or get a sudden, continuous pain, you can usually treat your shoulder pain without having to see your doctor.
If, after two weeks of treating yourself, you feel the pain isn’t any better you should see your doctor or a physiotherapist.
You should also see your doctor as soon as possible if you:
* develop severe pain in both shoulders
* also have pain in your thighs
* feel feverish or unwell.


Each shoulder problem has its own pattern of symptoms that can help your doctor or a physiotherapist make a diagnosis. Most conditions make it painful to use or move your shoulder, but some make your shoulder feel stiff.
Your doctor or physiotherapist will need to see which movements are the most painful, as this could show where the problem is. They will usually ask how the problem started, how it has developed and how it affects your daily activities.
If you can, try to write a few notes about when and how the problem started and what makes it feel worse before your appointment. This will help you get a more accurate diagnosis.
Usually your physiotherapist or doctor can recommend the best course of treatment once they’ve diagnosed what your condition is. However, they may send you for further tests if they suspect your problems are being caused by arthritis or a more complicated condition.


If your shoulder pain doesn’t improve with simple home treatments, there are other alternatives your doctor can recommend for you to try:

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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