Shoulder

Shoulder pain

Shoulder pain is a common problem with a number of different causes. It’s often a symptom of another problem.

There are a number of reasons why you might be experiencing shoulder pain, which include:

  • poor posture
  • frozen shoulder – a painful condition that reduces normal movement in the joint and can sometimes prevent movement in the shoulder altogether
  • rotator cuff disorders – the rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and help to keep it stable
  • shoulder instability – where the shoulder is unstable and may have an unusually large range of movement (hypermobility)
  • acromioclavicular joint disorders – conditions, including osteoarthritis that affect the acromioclavicular joint, which is the joint at the top of the shoulder
  • osteoarthritis in the shoulder joints
  • a broken (fractured) bone, such as a fracture of the humerus (upper arm bone) or broken collarbone

In some cases, pain in the shoulder isn’t caused by a problem in the shoulder joint, but by a problem in another area, such as the neck, that is felt in the shoulder and upper back.

Man With Shoulder Pain

Treating shoulder pain

There are things you can do yourself to treat shoulder pain, including using painkillers such as ibuprofen, or ice packs to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Avoiding activities that may aggravate your symptoms will also help.

Depending on the cause of your shoulder pain, you may need further treatment, such as:

In most cases, shoulder disorders improve over time if treatment advice is followed.

When to see your GP

You should see your GP if your pain is the result of an injury, is particularly bad, or there is no sign of improvement after a couple of weeks.

Shoulder pain can be a long-term problem: up to half of people still have symptoms after 18 months. A correct diagnosis will ensure you receive the right treatment.

Who is affected?

Shoulder disorders are fairly common: about three in 10 adults are affected by them at any one time.

Frozen shoulder and rotator cuff disorders are most common in middle-aged and older people. Shoulder instability and acromioclavicular joint disorders tend to affect younger people, particularly men who play:

  • sports that involve repetitive shoulder movements, such as overarm bowling or throwing
  • contact sports, such as rugby, where you may injure or fall on your shoulder

Causes of shoulder pain

Living with Pain

Woman Stretching
Whether your pain has just come on or you’ve lived with it for years, we have a number of tried-and-tested self-help steps that can help bring you relief.

Service levels

Patient satisfaction 50%
Waiting times 50%

Self Referrals

Camden Lock
You can self-refer into community physiotherapy services. Simply call 0207 871 0545 to make an appointment. Your initial contact with one of our chartered physiotherapists may be over the phone, where you will either be given advice on appropriate treatment, or a face-to-face consultation will be arranged.

Should you wish to speak to your GP first, simply make an appointment with your local practice. If your GP refers you, one of our patient care advisers will contact you within 48 hours to arrange an appointment.