Get answers to your Shoulder and Elbow questions.
Pain - shoulder
When you first feel shoulder pain, apply ice for up to 15 minutes, then leave it off for 15 minutes. Repeat this cycle for several hours. Wrap the ice in a cloth. Do NOT apply ice directly to the skin. Then, continue to ice 3 to 4 times a day for 2 to 3 days.
Rest the shoulder from activity for the next few days. When the pain and swelling have subsided, gradually begin regular activity. Consider seeing a physical therapist for help doing this safely.
Ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) may help reduce inflammation and pain.
Call 911 if you feel sudden pressure or crushing pain in your shoulder, especially if it extends from your chest, jaw, or neck, or occurs with shortness of breath, dizziness, or sweating. Very sudden shoulder pain can, occasionally, be a sign of a heart attack.
If you just had a severe blow or injury and your painful shoulder is swollen, badly bruised, or bleeding, get safely to an emergency room where they will check for a fracture or dislocation.
Contact your doctor if:
Your health care provider will perform a physical examination, including a detailed examination of the shoulder, and ask questions such as:
Diagnostic tests that may be performed vary depending on the results of your physical examination. Treatment may include the following:
Surgery is a last resort.
Miller RH, Dlabach JA. Shoulder and elbow injuries. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 44.
Krabak BJ, Banks NL. Adhesive capsulitis. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 10.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885