When should I see a doctor for shoulder pain?

You should see a doctor for shoulder pain if you experience a dramatic loss in motion or strength. For example, if yesterday you were able to pick up a five-gallon jug and today you can’t, that’s something to be concerned about. If your ability to perform activities of daily living declines rapidly, like having sudden difficulty putting on a jacket or reaching across your body to shower, you should see a doctor. If you have shoulder pain that you haven't experienced before that persists for more than just a couple of days, you should see a doctor.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

Shoulder pain may come and go, depending on the time of day or type of activity. Some people may feel fine when their arm is resting at their side. However, as soon as they raise their elbow, they experience pain.

Shoulder pain that occurs primarily at night is of particular concern because it interferes with sleep and may be a symptom of larger health problems. If shoulder pain is not improving, or if the shoulder is unstable, stiff or frozen, see your physician.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.