top of page
  • Writer's pictureAll of Pain

[Pain Management NYC] How to Tell Your Physician About Pain in Your Shoulder

Updated: Jun 26

shoulder pain management

Have you ever experienced shoulder pain? Are you constantly frustrated trying to explain your shoulder pain to doctors? You're not alone. Many people find it difficult to describe the pain and how it affects their activities. But you don't want to end up in the same situation where nobody gets it. You can't even imagine going through that experience again!

Whether you've hurt your shoulder or have a stiff neck, there's a great chance you'll have to tell the doctor about it. You may have gone through the experience many times before, but because it's not something that happens every day, it can still be nerve-wracking.

Pain is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. When the body heals itself, you recover. If your pain continues, it can be a sign of another condition. You may want to consult with a physician or pain management NYC specialist to get it checked out further. In this situation, knowing how to communicate your symptoms accurately can make the difference between getting back on track and being stuck with chronic shoulder pain.

So this blog is intended to give you the information you need in order to communicate your problem better and explain your shoulder pain to a pain specialist. Here are some tips to help make sure your healthcare provider understands exactly what's going on:

shoulder pain symptoms

Take note of your symptoms before your visit

Even if you've been living with pain for weeks or months, try to remember exactly when it started, how long it lasted, what made it better, and what makes it worse. Bring along a list of what has been bothering you and when it started when you made an appointment. This way, the specialist can look for patterns — such as whether they happen during certain activities or at certain times of day — that might help pinpoint the cause.

Describe the sensations of pain you're experiencing

Do they feel sharp? Aching? Stiff? Tingling? Numb? Burning? Tell the doctor about any other symptoms accompanying or following the pain — such as nausea or dizziness — and whether these symptoms are constant or intermittent. Shoulder pain is common in people with arthritis or other conditions affecting the joints or tendons around the shoulder. Some people also have pain due to muscle strain or injury (such as a rotator cuff injury).

Common signs and symptoms of shoulder pain include:

  • Sharp pain when lifting or reaching overhead

  • Pain when sleeping on that side of the body

  • Tenderness when pressing on specific areas near the joint

  • A click or pop when moving into certain positions

Share when your shoulder pain started

The shoulder is a complex joint consisting of the scapula (shoulder blade), arm bones, and collar bone. This structure allows for complicated movement and a wide range of motion. Shoulder pain can sometimes result from an injury like whiplash or dislocation. The shoulder is also susceptible to degeneration over time due to factors like osteoarthritis, so a lot can go wrong with it.

For a lot of people, shoulder pain is something that happens to you without warning. Doctors often ask patients when their symptoms began because that information helps them figure out whether something traumatic caused the pain. The muscles, tendons, and nerves that connect these bones together are often injured when you fall on an outstretched hand or have an accident. This can happen during sports, at work, or in an auto accident.

diagnosing shoulder pain

Pain in the shoulder is usually caused by inflammation of the tendons around the joint. This inflammation can be caused by injury or overuse. The most common causes include:

  • Injury from a fall onto an outstretched hand or arm

  • Rotator cuff tear (the muscles that form the roof of the shoulder joint)

  • Impingement syndrome (a condition where the tendons rub against each other)

The pain can range from mild to severe and may come on suddenly or gradually over time. You may have been reaching up on a shelf and felt an acute pain in your shoulder. Or you may have just had an injury happen out of the blue. Give details about how long you've had the pain and how severe it is. Your healthcare provider needs as much information as possible about how long symptoms have been present before making a diagnosis or recommending treatment options.

Explain what makes it worse or better

In addition to asking how the pain feels and where it hurts, the doctor will ask if anything makes the pain better or worse — this is called aggravating factors. Knowing what makes your shoulder hurt can help the specialist figure out what might be causing the problem.

For example, if it hurts when you lift your arm up high, that could be a sign of a rotator cuff tear (an injury to part of the shoulder joint). If it hurts when you move your arm in certain directions, that could mean arthritis in the joint. If it hurts when you push down on your arm against something (like a wall), that could be tendonitis (tendon inflammation).

Present any medical history

If you have shoulder pain, it's important to tell the health professional about any medical history that could help explain why your shoulder hurts. Be sure to mention any other medical conditions or injuries that might be related to your current problems, such as diabetes, arthritis, or heart disease, which may also be a factor in your shoulder pain.

You should also tell the doctor if you are taking any medications or supplements. This includes vitamins and herbal remedies. If you've had surgery on your shoulder, make sure the doctor knows this as well.

Consulting a professional is the best way to treat shoulder pain

Incorporating a pain management strategy can be crucial to not just getting relief from your shoulder pain but also improving performance in everyday life and helping the shoulder recover faster and stronger. So it's important to communicate clearly with the pain management NYC professional to get the right treatment.

Clearly describe the pain and sensations you're experiencing, and ask any relevant questions. If you know what a normal response for this injury is, providing that background information could prove helpful. By documenting the treatment plan and what works and does not work for you by employing your own personal records, you are also taking responsibility for your recovery. In the end, if you're properly prepared when you seek medical attention from a specialist, you'll feel better cared for and better treated.


bottom of page