Shoulder pain is common, and it will normally go away by itself within a fortnight. However, if your shoulder pain lasts longer than this, it may be caused by something more serious, which it is worth consulting with a GP or Physiotherapist about.
If your shoulder is painful or stiff for a long period of time (months or years) this may be a sign of Frozen Shoulder or Arthritis. If you’re experiencing pain which gets more painful when you use your shoulder, this might indicate tendonitis.
If you experience a sudden, very bad pain in your shoulder, and/or you’re unable to move your arm, you should attend A&E or call 111. These might be caused by a dislocation of the shoulder, or a rupture or tear of one of your shoulder tendons or ligaments.
But even if you think you might have any of these, it’s not a good idea to try and diagnose your condition by yourself. If your shoulder is hurting and you’re in any doubt about what’s causing it, it’s a good idea to book a telephone or video consultation with one of our Virtually GPs.
There are quite a lot of steps which we can take to resolve shoulder pain. With any of these, though, it’s worth being patient. Even after taking these steps, it can take a couple of weeks for shoulder pain to go away. And if your problem has been more serious, it may take much longer than this.
One of the best ways to resolve shoulder pain is to practise physiotherapy exercises for a few weeks. On Virtually, we have physiotherapists who are able to consult with our patients either over telephone or by video. Our physios can give you exercises to practise in order to resolve your shoulder pain. They will also be able to advise you if it is worth consulting with a GP about your shoulder pain, in serious instances. If needed, our Physios can also advise you about applying for Community-based physiotherapy services.
One great benefit of consulting with our Virtually Physios is that there is no limit on follow-up appointments – meaning that they will be able to support you for as long as your problems persist.
Sometimes shoulder pain can be very uncomfortable, and it can be a good idea to try to manage the pain with painkillers, or other over-the-counter medication like gels or creams. In these instances, you might want to consider consulting with one of our partner Pharmacists. They will be able to advice you on how best to manage your pain, or indicate to you if your problem is more serious, and should be discussed with a GP.
You should speak to the Virtually Clinical pharmacist in the first instance. They will recommend what to purchase over-the-counter from your local community pharmacy.
If your shoulder has been hurting for two weeks or more, you should book a consultation with a Virtually GP. If your shoulder has been hurting for less than a fortnight, but you are finding it very painful, or if you’re finding it at all difficult to move, you should also speak to one of our GPs.
In order to diagnose your shoulder pain, our GPs might send you for a scan or X-Ray on the shoulder. In serious cases, they may forward your case on to a specialist. But if needed, our GPs are also able to prescribe stronger pain-relief than is available over-the-counter, or medication to reduce the swelling.
While most of the time shoulder pain is fairly innocuous (though uncomfortable), there are some circumstances where a painful shoulder indicates something serious. If you have any of the following since your shoulder began to hurt, you should try to speak to a GP as soon as you can. If you are suffering any of the following very seriously, it may be worth calling 111, who will be able to advise you to contact your GP, or attend A&E, as appropriate:
We offer written, telephone and video consultations with a range of male and female clinicians from GPs, nurse practitioners, and primary care specialists such as physiotherapy.