When to See a Specialist About Shoulder Pain

When to See a Specialist About Shoulder Pain

Maybe you slept in an awkward position. Maybe you got hurt during your workout. Or, maybe you’ve noticed more pain with age. Shoulder pain can develop for a number of reasons, but how can you tell if you should see a doctor about it?

Kristopher Downing, MD, and our team at Upper Extremity Specialists, of Ortho 1 Medical Group, offer comprehensive shoulder care at our offices in Chula Vista and La Jolla, California. If you have shoulder pain — but you’re not sure if it warrants seeing a specialist — here are some signs it’s time to schedule an appointment.

Reasons to see a specialist

If your shoulder hurts, there are times when seeing a specialist could be beneficial. Here are a few of those times.

The condition is severe or the cause is unknown

If you have shoulder pain, the first place to go is usually your primary care doctor. Primary care doctors can manage mild or acute shoulder issues in many cases by prescribing rest, physical therapy, medication, and other conservative treatments.

However, if your doctor identifies a more severe condition, or if they can’t pinpoint the cause of your pain, they may recommend seeing a shoulder specialist.

Conservative care isn’t effective enough

Conservative care is nonsurgical treatment for pain and injury. The most effective conservative treatments for shoulder pain include:

Most doctors start by recommending conservative treatment strategies like these. However, if you’ve tried conservative care and it hasn’t made a difference for your pain, consider seeing a specialist.

The pain is chronic

Acute pain may be intense, but it’s generally short-lived. If you’ve been diagnosed with acute shoulder pain, it should resolve in a few weeks or months with conservative care.

Chronic pain, on the other hand, is pain that lasts for six months or longer. If your shoulder pain has persisted or gotten worse over a period of months or even years, it could be time to see a shoulder pain specialist.

How a specialist can treat shoulder issues

Dr. Downing and our team can review your medical history and any treatments you’ve already tried. With a comprehensive exam, we can identify the cause of your pain and develop a new treatment plan to reduce your pain and improve your joint health.

Depending on your case, Dr. Downing may recommend shoulder surgery if you have a shoulder injury or degenerative condition. Among the procedures we specialize in are arthroscopy, reparative orthopedics, and shoulder replacements.

Every case is different, but we’ll take every step necessary to get to the root of your problem and give you relief and healing. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Upper Extremity Specialists today.

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