Whether you’re an avid athlete or do a lot of heavy lifting, shoulder pain isn’t always such an uncommon symptom for many of us. (And since each and every one of us is aging, it becomes increasingly more likely as we get older.) But when does pain merit a visit to an orthopedic physician?
Here are a few signs that it might be time to make an appointment.
Swelling and Redness
Physical symptoms that go beyond just “feeling sore” can be a sign that you should seek out medical assistance. (Depending on the severity and whether or not it was spurred by an injury, immediate attention might even be in the cards.) If your shoulder joint is visibly swollen or if it is tender or warm to the touch, you should strongly consider having it looked at – particularly if symptoms persist over long periods of time.
Home Remedies Failed
When you experience joint pain in an area of the body like the shoulder, your first instinct is likely to try out some home remedies to help the symptoms subside. But if over-the-counter pain reducers, a nice long nap or applying cold or hot compresses don’t seem to be doing the trick (or if they only offer a temporary reprieve), it’s probably a good plan to set up an appointment at OI.
Many injury-related shoulder pains can be linked to harm to your rotator cuff. That’s why one surefire way to determine whether your pain is something that needs a physician’s care is to try lifting your arm over your head. If this or other everyday activities, like getting dressed in the morning, increase your pain level, you may be experiencing a tear or strain that needs to be treated. (Just make sure that you stop at the first sign of pain – there’s no need to overdo your arm-lift test and risk making the condition worse.)
Some temporary, home-treatable conditions will last a day or two and subside. However, if your shoulder pain prolongs over several days or even weeks, regardless of the pain level, it may be the result of something chronic such as osteoarthritis, tendinitis or bursitis. If you’re experiencing even moderate symptoms that last longer than a week, consider scheduling an appointment with an OI physician or physical therapist.