When Should I See a Doctor for Shoulder Pain?

Pain is the most common symptom of a shoulder problem. If you injured your shoulder joint in a fall or collision, experienced a tearing or popping sensation in your shoulder, or cannot lift your arm over your head, you should see a doctor right away.

On the other hand, many mild to moderate shoulder aches resolve on their own without professional medical attention. Also, most chronic shoulder injuries are not time-sensitive, which means you can generally allow your discomfort some time to improve without risking further damage. For instance, if you experience shoulder pain after spending hours painting your ceiling or starting a brand-new exercise routine, your discomfort is likely related to overuse. You may feel better if you ice the painful area of your shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, and gently keep your sore joint moving.

With that said, you should see a doctor if your shoulder pain begins to affect your daily life. For example, if you struggle to shower, get dressed, reach into your kitchen cabinets, or grab your phone out of your back pocket, or if your pain is interfering with your sleep, a doctor can pinpoint the cause and help you manage it.

Internal Shoulder Anatomy Diagram

Consult With an Expert in Lafayette

Peter D. Vizzi, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist who practices in Lafayette, Louisiana. Dr. Vizzi takes a comprehensive and personalized approach to shoulder pain treatment. He’ll begin by discussing your medical history and asking questions such as:

  • When did your pain start?
  • How has your pain changed over time?
  • What activities, movements, and body positions make you feel better or worse?

Next, Dr. Vizzi will examine your shoulder joint to evaluate how it moves, determine where it hurts, and assess the strength of the surrounding muscles. To get a visual of your bone structure and check for fractures, he may order an X-ray, which can be taken on site. If necessary, he may also order an MRI scan to get a visual of the soft tissue components of your shoulder.

Treatments for shoulder injuries cover a wide spectrum from conservative to surgical. In most cases, Dr. Vizzi begins by suggesting nonsurgical treatment, such as physical therapy, medication, or injections. If your shoulder pain does not improve after several weeks of conservative therapy, Dr. Vizzi may suggest surgery. For instance, he performs arthroscopy, arthroplasty, and other advanced techniques to address certain shoulder injuries.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain and would like to see a doctor, contact us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vizzi at his office in Lafayette, LA.

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