— Not an actual patient/physician

When to Discuss Shoulder Pain with Your Doctor

If you’re unsure whether or not your shoulder pain warrants a conversation with your doctor, here are a few reasons it might be time to give him a call.

It can be difficult to bring up the fact that you’re having pain in your shoulder. Shoulder pain can start after having a specific shoulder injury or other times people develop shoulder problems for no specific reason at all.  What makes shoulder pain difficult to endure is that it frequently interferes not only with normal activities of daily living such as putting a dish on a shelf, but also can be very debilitating when trying to sleep at night.  Night pain is one of the most frequent reasons that patients eventually see a doctor for evaluation of shoulder pain. 

Whether the pain has been occurring for a few days, weeks, months or even years, here are a few signs that it may be time to start a conversation with your doctor:

  • Your pain interferes with normal daily activity such as putting on your clothes or reaching into the back seat of a car
  • Your pain is worsening with time
  • Your range of motion or ability to reach in different directions has been decreasing
  • Your pain interferes with your ability to enjoy recreational activities that you once enjoyed such as golf or gardening
  • You feel grinding or catching in your shoulder
  • Your shoulder strength has decreased

If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, talking to your doctor is a good first step. Your primary care doctor may then refer you to an orthopedic surgeon to determine whether you are a candidate for shoulder replacement surgery, or if you have a different soft tissue injury that could be non-surgically or surgically repaired. Discuss the benefits as well as risks with your doctor.

Depending on the specific condition of the joint, they may recommend other, less invasive treatment options at first. They should also be able to determine if there are uncommon reasons that a shoulder replacement is not appropriate such as an ongoing infection, lack of bone available for the replacement, or the bone is not strong enough to support the replacement.

Please let us know how useful this article was to you

Thank you for rating this article.

Here's more you can do

Share Your Story

People like you need to hear that they're not alone. Your story can make a difference in their life.
I Want to Share My Story

Be Informed. Be Prepared!

Sign up for personalized article recommendations in your email.
Get Updates

About Us

Learn more about who we are and our mission of helping patients find balance in their lives.
About Us

Find a Doctor

Search by speciality, location and more. Find the right provider for you.
Find a Doctor