News & Updates

When You Should See an Orthopedic Doctor for Your Shoulder Injury

February 24th, 2023Orthopedic CareOrthoHC

The shoulder is the most flexible joint, with muscles providing crucial support and stabilization, enabling the body’s widest range of motion. But with this comes a higher risk of shoulder instability and injuries, affecting about 18 million Americans per year. Minor shoulder problems may be addressed with pain relievers, ice, or rest. But for more serious injuries and conditions, such as those involving numbness, or severe, sudden pain, immediate medical attention may be required. Depending on the situation, an emergency room visit may even be necessary.

Where May Pain Affect the Shoulder?

Bridging the arm and chest, the shoulder is complex, involving about 20 muscles and soft tissues, like tendons and ligaments, within the upper arm and upper back. The glenohumeral joint, a ball-and-socket junction at the top of the arm bone and the socket of the shoulder blade, is where most motion occurs. But to ensure full motion, the acromioclavicular joint, at the junction of the collarbone and shoulder blade, must also function normally.

About eight shoulder muscles attach to the shoulder blade (scapula), upper arm (humerus), and collar bone (clavicle), while others help stabilize and guide the shoulder and its movements. Besides keeping your arm bone in your shoulder socket, these soft tissues support the shoulder’s strength and range of motion and protect the joint itself.

Shoulder Injuries Requiring Medical Attention

Your shoulder allows normal movement and function, so any pain, whether acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term), can take a toll. Often, this can be managed at home, with over-the-counter (OTC) products, ice, or rest.

When To Schedule A Medical Appointment

For more serious injuries and conditions, an orthopedic specialist may have to diagnose and treat the problem, especially for persistent or acute pain. You should also schedule an office visit if you have shoulder pain with swelling, redness, tenderness, and warmth around the joint. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the quicker treatment can begin.

When To Seek Immediate Medical Care

Shoulder pain may require immediate medical attention, or even urgent care or emergency room care. This could include pain caused by an injury, or lingering pain. In these cases, the longer you wait, the harder it can be to treat. You can also develop permanent damage to and around your shoulder. If your injury is accompanied by the following, get immediate medical attention:

  • Obvious shoulder deformities, including possible dislocations or a joint suddenly appearing swollen or deformed.
  • You cannot use the joint or move your arm away from your body
  • There is numbness, weakness, or paralysis in your shoulder or arm.
  • You have severe, sudden pain in your shoulder or anywhere in your arm, including that which won’t subside, even with rest. There may also be pain type or intensity changes, such as an ache to sharp pain.
  • There is new swelling or a lump near or on the shoulder.

Who Should I See For A Shoulder Injury?

Depending on your shoulder pain’s underlying cause and treatment options, you may see more than one type of healthcare provider. For most non-urgent pain, your primary care doctor can treat you. They may order an X-ray or another imaging test. For more specialized care, they may refer you to another provider, including:

If you do need to visit an emergency department, you’ll likely be evaluated by an attending emergency physician or an orthopedic specialist.

Visit an Orthopedic Specialist for Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder pain, such as that with severe intensity or resulting from serious injuries, can require medical intervention and even immediate care. Should you experience a sudden injury or lingering pain, we encourage you to quickly connect with the orthopedic specialists at The Orthopedic Health Center in Hoboken and Jersey City, NJ today.

You no longer have to live with pain.
Appointments available now.

Request an Appointment

CALL NOWAppointments