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Pain in your shoulder can be caused by occupational, sports or other injuries, arthritis in the joint, or just general wear and tear of muscles, ligaments and tendons. Shoulder pain is very common, because the shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, with a wide range of motion. The pain can be acute at first, and gradually get better as the injury heals – or it can be chronic (long-term) and need ongoing pain management. Treatment will depend on your symptoms, the intensity of the pain and how long it goes on.


Why do I have shoulder pain?


  • Poor position at your desk/computer
  • Sports or other injury, causing dislocation or tearing of muscles
  • Arthritis
  • Frozen shoulder (severe restriction of movement in the shoulder joint)
  • Tendinosis (degradation or irritation of the rotator cuff tendons)


When do I need to see the doctor?

  • If you can’t lift items or use your arm without pain
  • If you can’t raise your arm above your head
  • If you have an injury
  • If you have persistent shoulder pain during the night
  • If your pain continues for more than a few days
  • If you have swelling or bruising in the shoulder area
  • If you have symptoms of infection, like fever, redness, burning or throbbing in the area
  • If you have sudden pressure or crushing pain in your shoulder, especially if you are also having difficulty breathing, dizziness or sweating, call 111 – this could be a heart attack


What is the treatment?


  • Avoid activities that cause pain, such as reaching above your head or behind yourself, lifting weights, throwing overarm or underarm
  • Apply ice to reduce inflammation
  • Use heated pads to soothe pain
  • Take anti-inflammatory medication (for example, ibuprofen) and/or analgesics (for example, paracetamol) or a treatment combining both Paracetamol 500mg + Ibuprofen 150mg, as prescribed by your doctor
  • Rub a menthol-based cream into the inflamed area
  • Physiotherapy and massage
  • Gentle stretching of muscles and tendons, as suggested by your doctor or physiotherapist
  • Injections of cortisone (a synthetic version of the natural hormone, which has an anti-inflammatory effect), if prescribed by your doctor
  • A few shoulder problems might require surgery, (for example, repeated dislocations or serious tearing of rotator cuff muscle and tendons)




More information


Find out how to make a claim, how to prevent injuries and more


EMedicine Health

- enter ‘shoulder’ and you will be taken to a list of shoulder conditions



Any medical information in this website is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, it is of a general nature only.  Please consult with a health care professional if you have a specific problem. 


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