Shoulder pain is a symptom rather than a condition and can be caused by: torn ligaments or cartilage, arthritis, ‘frozen shoulder’, infection, tendonitis, bursitis, hypermobility, or a dislocated shoulder.
Most types of minor shoulder injury or pain can be treated at home with rest. You should start to recover from shoulder pain within a few weeks and it can take up to six weeks to be fully recovered from mild shoulder pain.
If the pain is very bad or lasts a long time, call to make an appointment with one of our experts at Ahmeys.
Do not self-diagnose and see an Ahmeys expert if you are worried about your shoulder pain.
- Pain and stiffness in the shoulder
- Pain that does not go away for over months or years
- Pain that is worse while using your arm or shoulder
- A tingling sensation, weakness, or numbness in the shoulder
- A feeling like a shoulder is clicking or locking
- Limited range of motion in the shoulder and or arm
- Sudden very severe pain and inability to move the arm
- Pain at the top of the shoulder (where the collarbone and shoulder joint meet)
When to see an expert at Ahmeys
If you are experiencing the symptoms above, your symptoms are getting worse, have not gone away within a few weeks or months, have not gone away with home treatment and self-care, or have begun to affect your mobility and day to day life, we recommend that you call Ahmeys to book an appointment.
One of our experts can check your symptoms and conduct tests to confirm a diagnosis and rule out any other problems. Call Ahmeys to make an appointment if:
- The pain has not improved in two weeks
- If it is very difficult to move your shoulder or arm
- If the pain started as a result of a moderate injury, fall, or another type of accident
When to make an urgent appointment with a doctor
Severe shoulder pain symptoms can indicate a more severe medical problem, such as a torn ligament or tendon or a broken or dislocated bone.
Seek immediate care if:
- Your shoulder is suddenly or very extremely painful
- You cannot move your arm at all
- Your pain was caused by a serious injury or fall and is badly bruised, misshapen, swollen, or bleeding
- You have a temperature and feel generally unwell in addition to shoulder pain and have redness or heat around the shoulder joint (this could indicate an infection)
- You have pins and needles that do not go away
- If your shoulder or arm is completely numb and has no feeling
- If your arm is noticeably hot or cold to the touch
Shoulder pain can be caused by: torn ligaments or cartilage, arthritis, ‘frozen shoulder’, infection, tendonitis, bursitis, hypermobility, or a dislocated shoulder. Sometimes, it can be difficult to pinpoint an exact cause. Below is a list of possible causes and their related shoulder symptoms:
Shoulder pain with no obvious injury
- Inflammation of the tissues surrounding the shoulder
- Worn or damaged cartilage (the flexible, strong tissue that lines the bones) around the shoulder
- Bony growths (osteophytes) that develop around the shoulder
- Pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion
- Infection: warm, reddened skin with a fever
- Arthritis: a common condition that causes inflammation and pain in a joint or multiple joints
- Osteoporosis: a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break
- Bleeding in the joint: warmth, swelling, and bruising, more likely while taking anticoagulants
- Frozen shoulder: painful and stiff shoulder for months and sometimes years caused by the tissue around the shoulder become inflamed and shrinking.
- Frozen shoulder can often have no clear cause, but can happen as a result of an injury or surgery that keeps you from moving. You can also get frozen shoulder if you have diabetes
Shoulder pain after injury
- Sprains, strains, and problems in the acromioclavicular joint (like dislocation or stretched ligaments): pain, especially on top of the shoulder (where the collarbone and shoulder joint meet), after overusing, stretching, or twisting the muscle that often occurs during exercise
- Tendonitis: swelling of a tendon that becomes painful after an injury. Most often caused by sudden, sharp movements or repetitive exercise (such as running, throwing, or jumping)
- Bursitis: inflammation and swelling of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) over your shoulder joint that causes redness and pain especially when kneeling or bending
- Torn ligament, tendon, meniscus or cartilage damage: a tear in the cartilage surrounding the socket of the shoulder joint
- Dislocated shoulder, a broken collarbone or upper arm, or torn tendon: which causes very bad pain and can prevent you or make it very difficult for you to move your arm
If you are concerned that you may have shoulder pain that will not go away, call Ahmeys to book an appointment with one of our experts to discuss your symptoms and potential treatments.
Shoulder pain can be associated with many different conditions and display a variety of symptoms, so a doctor will ask you about your medical history, pain levels and assess what they think might be the cause of your pain.
An expert at Ahmeys will review your symptoms and potentially perform the following diagnostic tests:
- Physical examination of the shoulder to examine what is causing your shoulder pain
- Conduct or refer you to a hospital for imaging scans such as MRI, X-Ray and CT scans to produce an image of your cartilage and bones
Once one of our experts has assessed you, they will discuss treatment options with you. Treatment may also depend on the results of any potential diagnostic tests.
Treatment may be dependent on your age, weight, other medical history factors and will certainly be dependent on what type of shoulder pain or condition you have been diagnosed with.
One of our experts may combine treatment methods to improve pain relief, joint function and to help take pressure off sore joints. Below are some of the potential methods that one of our may experts may use to treat your shoulder pain symptoms:
- Over the counter (OTC) pain relievers: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, to help control pain and reduce inflammation
- Menthol or capsaicin creams: to apply topically to the affected area and block the pain signals from your joints
- Opioids: can be used to relieve severe pain
- Analgesics: such as hydrocodone or acetaminophen for pain relief
- Steroid injections: Steroids containing manmade versions of the hormone cortisol can be used to treat painful back problems. Injections of cortisone (an anti-inflammatory medication) can be made directly into the affected area (usually after a local anesthetic is used to numb the area and reduce pain), to help decrease inflammation around the nerve roots
Very few people require surgery for shoulder pain. However, if you have unrelenting pain that does not improve with other treatments and are experiencing worsening pain, muscle weakness, and numbness, one of our experts may recommend surgery.
Surgery would typically be reserved for patients with tissue or joint damage that requires removal or reconstruction.
An arthroscopy may be used to remove inflamed shoulder joint tissue through a small cut in the skin using a thin tube with a light source and camera called an arthroscope. This is a relatively non-invasive procedure and typically does not require an overnight stay in hospital
Supportive and alternative therapies
- Physiotherapy Therapy
- Physiotherapy helps to restore movement and function, can help you to increase your flexibility and strengthen your muscles. Regular physiotherapy can release stiff muscles and soft tissues to reduce pain and the use of these techniques can help to prevent pain from coming back
- Osteopathy: physical manipulation, stretching, and massaging the muscles and joints to prevent and relieve health problems and pain
How to manage your symptoms
- Take painkillers to reduce pain, but make sure that you follow the recommended dose and that the medication does not conflict with any other medication you are currently taking
- Warm-up before exercising and stretch afterward and make sure you do not overexert yourself or do excessive amounts of physical activity
- Apply hot or cold packs to joints to relieve pain
- Use stretching techniques provided by one of our experts at Ahmeys or a physiotherapist
- Stay active and gently move your shoulder unless otherwise instructed
- Stand up straight with your shoulders back gently and try to maintain good posture while sitting and standing
- Sit with a cushion behind your lower back and rest your arm on a cushion in your lap
- Do not avoid using your shoulder as this can prevent it from getting better
- Avoid strenuous exercises and using heavy gym equipment
- Try to avoid lifting heaving, large objects
- Use correct techniques if your occupation requires you to handle heavy, large objects
- Avoid repetitive actions or exercises that aggravate the joint
- Do not slouch when standing or sitting and prevent your shoulders and neck from rolling forward to prevent stiffness