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Rotator Cuff Injury (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

When to call the doctor

Not all shoulder pain arises from the shoulder. Sometimes pain from the heart can be referred to the shoulder, and pain from the gallbladder or diaphragm can also be felt in the shoulder region. Pain from a rotator cuff injury is worsened with shoulder movement. If the unexplained shoulder pain is not affected by movement, it is reasonable to seek immediate medical care. If there is concern that the pain is coming from the heart, emergency medical services should be activated (call 911 if available).

  • If the shoulder pain persists in spite of home care with rest, ice and if tolerated, anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Naprosyn)
  • If shoulder problems (pain) prevent the person from performing routine daily activities or work
  • If pain prevents overhead reaching (for example, reaching to get an item in a cabinet above shoulder level)
  • If the pain prevents playing sports in which an overhead motion is required (for example, throwing, swinging a racquet, or swimming)

When to go to the hospital

It is reasonable to seek emergency medical care if there is worry about a broken bone, if there is numbness or change in sensation in the arm or hand, or if movement in the shoulder is limited.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/27/2014

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Rotator Cuff Injury »

Rotator cuff injuries are a common cause of shoulder pain in people of all age groups.

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