Doctor for Persistent Shoulder Pain

Doctor for Persistent Shoulder Pain

October 18, 2023 Off By Wendy D. Allen

Shoulder pain is a common ailment that many of us experience at some point in our lives. While some cases of shoulder pain may resolve on their own with rest and self-care, persistent shoulder pain can be a cause for concern. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore when you should see a doctor for persistent shoulder pain, the potential underlying causes, and what to expect during your medical evaluation.

Understanding Persistent Shoulder Pain

Before we dive into the when and why of seeking medical attention for persistent shoulder pain, let’s understand what persistent shoulder pain is and what differentiates it from temporary discomfort.

Persistent shoulder pain is characterized by discomfort, aching, or pain that lingers for an extended period, often lasting more than a few weeks. It may affect your ability to perform daily activities, disrupt your sleep, or hinder your range of motion. In some cases, the pain might be constant, while in others, it may come and go.

When to Seek Medical Attention

  1. Severe or Sudden Onset Pain: If you experience severe or sudden-onset shoulder pain, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional immediately. This kind of pain can be a sign of a serious injury, such as a fracture or dislocation, which requires prompt medical intervention.
  2. Persistent Pain that Doesn’t Improve: If your shoulder pain persists for more than a few weeks, despite trying at-home remedies like rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication, it’s time to see a doctor. Chronic pain can be a sign of an underlying issue that needs medical attention.
  3. Limited Range of Motion: If your shoulder pain restricts your ability to move your arm or shoulder, you should seek medical advice. Reduced range of motion could indicate problems with tendons, ligaments, or the joint itself.
  4. Numbness or Tingling: If you experience numbness or tingling in your shoulder, arm, or hand along with pain, this could be a sign of nerve compression or other neurological issues, which require a medical evaluation.
  5. Pain After an Injury: If your shoulder pain persists or worsens after an injury, such as a fall or accident, you should see a doctor. Sometimes, pain may appear or intensify after the initial shock wears off.
  6. Pain in Both Shoulders: If you experience pain in both shoulders simultaneously, it might be a symptom of a systemic condition like arthritis or an autoimmune disorder.
  7. Other Symptoms: Pay attention to other accompanying symptoms such as fever, unexplained weight loss, or inflammation. These can be indicators of underlying health issues that require medical attention.

Potential Causes of Persistent Shoulder Pain

Understanding the potential causes of persistent shoulder pain can help you and your healthcare provider narrow down the diagnosis and treatment plan. Here are some common culprits:

  1. Rotator Cuff Injuries: The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize and move the shoulder joint. Injuries or tears in the rotator cuff can lead to persistent pain.
  2. Tendinitis: Inflammation of the tendons around the shoulder can cause pain, especially with overhead movements.
  3. Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa sac, which provides cushioning for the shoulder joint, can result in persistent discomfort.
  4. Frozen Shoulder: Adhesive capsulitis, commonly known as frozen shoulder, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint.
  5. Arthritis: Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can affect the shoulder joint, leading to persistent pain and reduced mobility.
  6. Nerve Compression: Conditions like a pinched nerve or cervical radiculopathy can cause shoulder pain that radiates down the arm.
  7. Referred Pain: Sometimes, shoulder pain may be a symptom of a problem in another part of the body, such as the heart or gallbladder.

The Doctor’s Visit: What to Expect

When you decide it’s time to see a doctor for your persistent shoulder pain, here’s what you can expect during your medical evaluation:

  1. Medical History: Your doctor will ask you about your medical history, including any previous injuries, surgeries, or existing health conditions.
  2. Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination of your shoulder will be conducted to assess range of motion, strength, and any signs of swelling or deformity.
  3. Imaging Studies: Depending on the initial assessment, your doctor may recommend X-rays, MRI, or ultrasound to get a clearer picture of the issue.
  4. Blood Tests: In cases where systemic conditions are suspected, blood tests may be conducted.
  5. Treatment Options: Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will discuss treatment options, which may include physical therapy, medication, injections, or, in severe cases, surgical intervention.
  6. Recovery and Follow-Up: Your doctor will outline the expected recovery timeline and any follow-up appointments.

Remember that early diagnosis and treatment can prevent your shoulder pain from worsening and improve your overall quality of life. If you want to find great tips and information about shoulder pain, check out the full article in this link to know more.


Persistent shoulder pain can significantly impact your daily life and overall well-being. Knowing when to see a doctor for persistent shoulder pain is crucial in addressing the underlying causes and finding relief. If you’re experiencing persistent shoulder pain, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Your health and comfort are of utmost importance.