When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Call 911 or emergency medical assistance

Shoulder pain along with certain symptoms may signal a heart attack. Seek emergency medical help if you:

  • Have a hard time breathing.
  • Feel tightness in your chest.
  • Are sweating.

Seek immediate medical attention

If you hurt your shoulder by falling or through another accident, get a ride to urgent care or the emergency room. You need urgent medical attention if you have:

  • A shoulder joint that appears deformed after a fall.
  • No ability to use your shoulder or move your arm away from your body.
  • Intense pain.
  • Sudden swelling.

Schedule an office visit

Make an appointment with your care team for shoulder pain if you have:

  • Swelling.
  • Redness.
  • Tenderness and warmth around the joint.
  • Pain that is getting worse.
  • A harder time moving your shoulder.


To relieve minor shoulder pain you might try:

  • Pain relievers. Start with topical creams or gels. Products with 10% menthol (Icy Hot, BenGay), or diclofenac (Voltaren) may relieve pain without pills. If those don't work, try other nonprescription pain medicines. These include acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).
  • Rest. Don't use your shoulder in ways that cause or worsen pain.
  • Ice. Put an ice pack to your painful shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes a few times each day.

Often, self-care steps and a little time could be all you need to relieve your shoulder pain.

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Aug. 31, 2023