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    Shoulder pain

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    Definition of shoulder pain

    Shoulder pain includes any pain that arises in or around your shoulder. Shoulder pain may originate in the joint itself, or from any of the many surrounding muscles, ligaments or tendons. Shoulder pain usually worsens with activities or movement of your arm or shoulder.

    Certain diseases and conditions affecting structures in your chest or abdomen, such as heart disease or gallbladder disease, also may cause shoulder pain. Shoulder pain that arises from some other structure is called “referred pain.” Referred shoulder pain usually doesn’t worsen when you move your shoulder.

    Causes of shoulder pain

    Shoulder pain causes include:

    1. Avascular necrosis
    2. Brachial plexus injury
    3. Broken arm
    4. Bursitis
    5. Cervical radiculopathy
    6. Dislocated shoulder
    7. Frozen shoulder
    8. Heart attack
    9. Impingement
    10. Sprains and strains
    11. Osteoarthritis
    12. Polymyalgia rheumatica
    13. Rheumatoid arthritis
    14. Rotator cuff injury
    15. Separated shoulder
    16. Septic arthritis
    17. Tendinitis
    18. Tendon rupture
    19. Thoracic outlet syndrome
    20. Torn cartilage

    When to see a doctor

    Call 911 or emergency medical assistance

    Shoulder pain accompanied by difficulty breathing or a sense of tightness in the chest may be a symptom of a heart attack and requires immediate medical attention.

    Seek immediate medical attention

    Ask someone to drive you to urgent care or the emergency room if your shoulder pain is caused by an injury and is accompanied by:

    • A joint that appears deformed
    • Inability to use the joint or move your arm away from your body
    • Intense pain
    • Sudden swelling

    Schedule an office visit

    Make an appointment with your doctor if your shoulder pain is accompanied by:

    • Swelling
    • Redness
    • Tenderness and warmth around the joint

    Self-care

    To relieve minor shoulder pain you might try:

    • Pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) may help.
    • Rest. Avoid using your shoulder in ways that cause or worsen pain.
    • Ice. Apply an ice pack to your painful shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes a few times each day.
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