You can usually do things to ease shoulder pain yourself. See a GP if it does not start feeling better after 2 weeks.
You usually need to do these things for 2 weeks before shoulder pain starts to ease.
It can take 4 to 6 weeks to recover fully from mild shoulder pain.
Try either a:
A pharmacist can suggest:
These can be signs of something serious, like a broken or dislocated bone, or a torn (ruptured) ligament or tendon.
111 will tell you what to do. They can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone.
Go to an urgent treatment centre
Urgent treatment centres are places you can go if you need to see someone now.
They're also called walk-in centres or minor injuries units.
You may be seen quicker than you would at A&E.
A GP will examine you to work out what's causing your shoulder pain.
They might send you for tests (such as an X-ray) to check the cause.
They'll suggest a treatment based on the cause, for example:
The number of physiotherapy sessions a GP might prescribe depends on the cause of your shoulder pain.
If you're still in pain after your sessions end, go back to the GP.
They might prescribe more physiotherapy or suggest another treatment.
Physiotherapy from the NHS might not be available everywhere. Waiting times can also be long.
You can also pay to get physiotherapy privately.
Shoulder pain that does not improve after 2 weeks might be caused by something that needs treatment.
Do not self-diagnose – see a GP if you're worried.
|Shoulder symptoms||Possible causes|
|Pain and stiffness that does not go away over months or years||frozen shoulder, arthritis (osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis)|
|Pain that's often worse while using your arm or shoulder||tendonitis, bursitis, impingement|
|Tingling, numb, weak, feels like it's clicking or locking||shoulder instability, sometimes because of hypermobility|
|Sudden very bad pain, cannot move your arm (or it's difficult), sometimes changes shape||dislocated shoulder, broken bone (such as the upper arm or collarbone), torn or ruptured tendon|
|Pain on top of the shoulder (where the collarbone and shoulder joint meet)||problems in the acromioclavicular joint, like dislocation or stretched or torn ligaments|