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Injury or Just Soreness? Knowing When Your Shoulder Pain Requires Medical Intervention

Your shoulders play a key role in much of what you do. Brushing your teeth, getting dressed, reaching overhead — all of these can become very difficult when your shoulder is out of commission. But what do you do? How do you know if your discomfort is just soreness or an injury that requires medical intervention?

At Peninsula Orthopedic Associates, our team of compassionate orthopedic experts understands the frustration a sore or injured shoulder can bring. Using nonsurgical therapies, advanced surgical techniques, and regenerative medicine, our team can treat the root causes of your shoulder pain. 

To ensure you get the care you need, we’ve curated this guide on shoulder pain to help you know when you can treat pain at home and when you need to call an expert.

When to seek immediate medical attention

If your shoulder pain comes with tightness in your chest or makes it hard for you to breathe, it could be a sign of a heart attack. This type of pain requires immediate medical assistance. 

You should also seek immediate medical attention if your shoulder pain is caused by a known injury, and your symptoms include:

Caring for your shoulder at home

The shoulder is a complex body part, and there are many reasons it can give you trouble. Many of these reasons, from sleeping wrong to strain from an activity, can be treated at home with self-care. 

If you have mild, general shoulder pain, rest is an important first step. Avoid using your shoulder in ways that trigger your pain or make it worse. This will allow inflammation in the joint to subside. You can also apply ice to the affected shoulder several times a day, take over-the-counter pain relievers, and stretch it gently to help ease your discomfort.  

When it’s time to schedule an appointment

If you’ve tried self-care measures and the pain doesn’t subside in a few weeks, or if you’re not sure what’s triggering the pain, it’s time to call the doctor. In addition to persistent discomfort, here are other signs that it’s time to schedule an appointment:

If you’re not sure whether you need to see a doctor, it’s always better to play it safe and schedule an exam. Early medical care can speed the healing process and prevent further injury. 

Treatments for shoulder problems

At Peninsula Orthopedic Associates, our specialists can provide an in-depth assessment to accurately diagnose the root cause of your shoulder pain. Our providers will start with conservative treatments when possible, such as physical therapy or regenerative medicine. If your shoulder problem requires surgical intervention, our surgical team can give you the expert care you need.


If you’re tired of dealing with shoulder pain or are experiencing symptoms that require medical attention, Peninsula Orthopedic Associates can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.

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