Your GP may be able to diagnose the cause of your shoulder pain by discussing your symptoms with you and examining your shoulder. In some cases, tests may be needed.
As well as asking exactly where the pain is, your GP will also need to know whether:
Your GP will probably carry out a physical examination of your shoulder area. They will:
Your GP may also ask you to do some specific arm movements for example, placing your hands on the back of your neck and pointing your elbows out to the side. The type of movements that cause pain will help your GP to determine the underlying cause.
If you need any imaging tests to examine your shoulder in more detail, your GP may refer you for hospital tests. You may also need some blood tests. These are explained below.
You may have a shoulder X-ray if the inside of your shoulder joint needs to be examined to rule out other damage. An X-ray uses radiation to detect problems with your bones.
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce a detailed images of the body especially useful for soft tissues like tendons and ligaments.
Read about magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans for more information about the procedure.
An ultrasound scan uses high frequency sound waves to create an image of part of the inside of the body and can be used to diagnose problems with joints, ligaments and tendons.
Read about ultrasound scans for more information about the procedure.
A sample of your blood may be tested to rule out conditions that can cause shoulder pain or similar symptoms, such as:
Shoulder pain is a symptom rather than a condition in itself. Shoulder disorders are the most common causes of shoulder pain.
Shoulder pain can be caused by a number of conditions, including frozen shoulder, rotator cuff disorders, shoulder instability and acromioclavicular joint disorders.
Your GP may be able to diagnose the cause of your shoulder pain by first discussing your symptoms with you and examining your shoulder.