When to See a Specialist for Shoulder Pain


Shoulder pain is one of the most common problems reported to doctors since the shoulder is one of the most frequently used parts of the body. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, over four million cases of shoulder pain are reported annually. Due to this, people often ask when to see a doctor for shoulder pain. If the pain you’re experiencing prevents you from your daily tasks, it’s important to seek help from a trusted orthopedic specialist.

Person Grasping Shoulder in Pain

When To See a Doctor for Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder problems can often lead to various painful conditions, such as reduced function, instability, weakness and pain. The rotator cuff is the group of muscles and tendons that allow your shoulder to move around. The upper arm bone, known as the humerus, is loosely fitted inside the shoulder joint socket, making it susceptible to injury.
Here are some of the symptoms that will indicate if your shoulder is injured to an extent requiring immediate medical attention:
  • A deformity of your upper arm or shoulder.
  • Your shoulder gets dislocated, which makes it unstable.
  • You hear popping, clicking or snapping sounds when you move your shoulder and arm. This frequently happens when you try to throw or lift something.
  • Experiencing pain when you try to raise your arm, reach backwards with your arm or move your arm over your head or across your chest.
  • The pain and discomfort in your shoulder cause you difficulty sleeping.
  • The pain you feel lasts longer than a few weeks and won’t go away with over-the-counter pain medication or home treatments.

Most Common Shoulder Problems

The following are the most common shoulder problems that people experience:

  • Arthritis: The two joints of your shoulder can be affected by arthritis.
  • Impingements: This is a common condition among adults where there’s a rubbing of the surface of the rotator cuff, causing pain when you try to lift your arm.
  • Dislocation: This condition occurs when the upper arm bone pops out of the shoulder socket. Some dislocations are partial, while others have the entire bone fully dislocated out of the socket.
  • Rotator Cuff Tears: This condition is most common among those aged 40 and older. The tendons and muscles surrounding the upper arm bone get torn, causing persistent pain and limited motion.
  • Broken Collar Bones: These bones can break due to a fall or other high-impact injury, usually due to a sports injury or falling accident.

Who Should I See for Shoulder Pain?

Many people report the early symptoms of minor shoulder pain to their family doctors. If the pain goes away easily after treatment, there is no need to see a specialist. However, if the pain lingers or worsens, it’s natural to wonder: “who should I see for shoulder pain?”. An orthopedic physician should be consulted if the shoulder pain becomes significantly worse over time.

Who is At Risk for Shoulder Pain and Related Injuries?

There are several factors contributing to the increased risk of a shoulder injury. Certain sports and other activities such as weight lifting, tennis, baseball, swimming and boxing can increase your risk. Here are some other factors that can increase your risk for rotator cuff injuries:

  • Family history
  • Jobs requiring a lot of overarm motions
  • Age, beginning at 40 and it gets more common among those aged 60 and older

Customized and Advanced Care From Shoulder Pain Specialists At Georgia Bone & Joint

Shoulder pain should be treated as a unique and individual case for each person. If you’ve experienced a shoulder injury, receiving the appropriate treatment can help you heal and recover speedily so that you can get back to the sports and activities you love. At Georgia Bone & Joint, our orthopedic surgeons focus on providing the most attentive care customized to your needs. Book an appointment today.