Shoulder pain



Pain that can come from the shoulder joint or from muscles or tissues around the joint.


For minor pain, rest the shoulder and try not to use the shoulder in ways that make it hurt. Place an ice pack on the shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes a few times a day. Take pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).

When to seek immediate medical care

Seek medical care right away if the painful shoulder:

  • Happens with trouble breathing or tightness in the chest.
  • Looks different from usual in size or shape.
  • Can't be used or limits movement of the arm.
  • Hurts badly.
  • Suddenly swells up.

When to make a doctor's appointment

Make an appointment to see a health care professional if the painful shoulder:

  • Doesn't get better with self-care.
  • Changes in color.
  • Feels tender and warm.
  • Looks swollen.