Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, if your separated shoulder is severe, you might be referred to a doctor who specializes in bones and joints.

Here's information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

Make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, including any that seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
  • Key personal information, including recent accidents or participation in contact sports
  • All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take, including the doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor

Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember the information you're given.

For a separated shoulder, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • How severe is my injury?
  • Will I need surgery?
  • How long before I regain strength in my shoulder?
  • Will I be able to return to my sport after I recover?
  • What can I do to protect my shoulder from future injuries?
  • Do you recommend any particular exercises to strengthen my shoulder?
  • Do you have brochures or printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you several questions, such as:

  • How much does your shoulder hurt on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • When did your shoulder pain begin?
  • Do you have numbness or tingling in your arm or hand?
  • Do you know what triggered your symptoms? For instance, have you fallen or participated in contact sports recently?
  • Have you injured your shoulder before?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your pain?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your pain?
Nov. 22, 2016
  1. Koehler SM. Acromioclavicular joint injuries. Accessed June 17, 2016.
  2. Shoulder separation. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Accessed June 17, 2016.
  3. Safran MR, et al. Acromioclavicular separation (separated shoulder). In: Instructions for Sports Medicine Patients. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Sauders Elsevier; 2012. http://www/ Accessed June 17, 2016.