There could be many reasons why you have shoulder pain. You may have been injured in an accident, have inflammation from playing sports or keeping active, be experiencing age-related degeneration, or your neck or shoulder nerves might be irritated. A large number of tendons and ligaments make up the shoulder girdle. This means that even if just one small muscle or tendon is in trouble, you can suffer terrible shoulder pain.
Physical injury: Certain sports or a simple fall can cause trauma, chronic shoulder pain, or dislocation. If you’ve been injured and can see visible disfiguration of your shoulder, such as a bulge or exposed tissue, get help immediately and don’t try to put it back into place yourself.
Rotator cuff: Shoulders get their range of motion from the rotator cuff. This series of tendons surrounds the shoulder to keep the upper arm bone in place. The most common cause of shoulder pain is rotator cuff inflammation. This can result from repetitive motion, manual labour or sleeping in the same position on your shoulder each night. When this happens, you’ll find lifting your arm particularly difficult.
Arthritis: As we age, muscles and joints deteriorate. Shoulder arthritis occurs when there is damage to the cartilage inside or on top of the shoulder joint. When this happens, the ball-and-socket mechanism loses its ability to act as a smooth, gliding surface for shoulder rotation and movement. Symptoms from shoulder pain caused by arthritis vary greatly depending on the amount of damage you have.
Cervical Spine: The nerves in the neck directly influence the shoulder, so pain from these nerves can make its way to the shoulder. If these nerves cause your shoulder pain, you might feel numb or have pins and needles, which are unrelated to movement in your shoulder.
In most cases, shoulder pain is mild and can be treated at home. Apply ice wrapped in cloth four times a day, for 15 minutes at a time, for a few days to reduce inflammation and soothe the pain. You can also take Ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and swelling. You can slowly return to your normal routine as your shoulder pain eases.
Managing shoulder pain at home is simple, but if it persists after a few days, get in touch with us, and we can help.
To find out exactly what’s wrong, our specialists will ask you a series of questions relating to your lifestyle and perform a detailed physical exam. To establish a precise diagnosis, you may also need to have some scans, such as X-rays, CT, or MRI. Once we know what’s causing your shoulder pain, you might be treated with physio, medications, or in rare cases, surgery.
Sudden shoulder pain with no immediate trauma source might signify a heart attack. In cases of sudden and severe shoulder pain, please call 999 straight away.
Get in touch
To ask a question about shoulder pain or to book an appointment, get in touch with our team Monday-Friday, 8am – 6pm, or Saturday 9am – 2pm, on 020 7806 4004 or email [email protected].
If you’re paying for yourself, you don’t need a referral from your GP. Simply book an appointment!
If you have insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa, Aviva), contact your insurer to get treatment authorisation. In most cases, you’ll also need a referral letter from your GP.
If you don’t have a GP, you can use our private GP practice.