When to See a Specialist About Your Shoulder Pain

Sep 01, 2023
When to See a Specialist About Your Shoulder Pain
Does your shoulder hurt? Shoulder pain is common, and it can be difficult to determine if you should see a medical professional. Read on to learn some of the signs that it’s time to see a shoulder specialist.

Your shoulders are the most mobile joints in your body. Unfortunately, this makes them uniquely susceptible to injury and pain. In fact, shoulder pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal problems among adults of all ages.

Shoulder pain is frustrating. Even worse, it can quickly become debilitating without the right care. And while your primary care provider is a great place to start for mild, acute shoulder pain, they may not have the expertise to diagnose and treat more complex conditions.

Whether it's a lingering ache or sudden, sharp pain, ignoring shoulder discomfort could lead to further complications. William Graham, MD, and our team at Sporting Medicine in Charlotte, North Carolina, are here to help you.

We specialize in treating shoulder pain. In this blog, Dr. Graham explains some of the signs that it’s time to see an orthopedic specialist about shoulder pain.

Persistent, intense pain

The biggest sign that you should see a shoulder specialist is if you have persistent or intense shoulder pain.

Acute shoulder injuries should start feeling better with a few days of conservative treatment, such as rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medications. But, if your pain lasts longer or gets worse despite conservative care, it may indicate a more serious underlying issue. 

Shoulder pain that disrupts your sleep or gets worse at night can also indicate a more severe condition. And trying to ignore severe pain or a chronic lack of sleep can increase your risk of further damaging your shoulder. 

Dr. Graham can give you a thorough examination to identify the root cause of your shoulder pain and develop a treatment plan to address the underlying issue.

Limited range of motion

You rely on your shoulders all day, every day. And limited range of motion — with or without pain — is often a clear indication of an underlying problem.

Symptoms can include difficulty lifting your arm, reaching overhead, or performing simple movements. Sometimes, shoulder injuries can restrict range of motion so much that they interfere with your ability to perform everyday tasks, such as dressing or driving.

A few common shoulder conditions that can restrict your range of motion are rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis, and frozen shoulder. These issues can get worse without professional care, and early diagnosis can help you avoid further damage and regain full function in your shoulder.

As a shoulder specialist, Dr. Graham can diagnose the cause of your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatments to restore flexibility and comfort.

Symptoms of shoulder instability

A network of tendons, ligaments, and muscles hold the bones in your joints together and make them feel stable. If you feel that your shoulder frequently “gives out” or feels unstable, it’s time to see a specialist.

Shoulder instability can result from ligament injuries or dislocations, and it can cause chronic shoulder pain and weakness. Dr. Graham can diagnose your symptoms and determine the best course of action, which could include physical therapy and strengthening exercises.

A history of shoulder injury

Suffering a shoulder injury increases your risk for future issues, even if you healed well initially. If you have a history of shoulder injuries, pay close attention to any shoulder discomfort or recurrent pain.

Previous injuries can leave your shoulder susceptible to problems like osteoarthritis and chronic instability, and seeking treatment early is the best way to relieve symptoms and take steps to prevent future issues.

Your shoulder is a complex and vital joint. And if you’re dealing with shoulder pain, don’t wait for it to get worse. Reach out to our team at Sporting Medicine to get a diagnosis, find relief, and start restoring your shoulder health. To learn more, call us at 704-503-9023 or book an appointment online.