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eMed previously Babylon Health

Shoulder pain

Edited by Dr Claudia Pastides, 1st April 2019

Musculoskeletal shoulder pain is very common and will usually improve by itself.


The cause of pain can lie within muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones of the shoulder joint.

Risk factors

  • Physically demanding work
  • Sports involving regular, repetitive movements

Typical Symptoms

  • Shoulder pain, worse with movement
  • Difficulty moving the shoulder
  • Difficulty in combing hair or stretching arm to the back
  • Weakness in the affected arm

Common Treatment

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Over the counter or prescribed pain relievers
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Specialist treatment or surgery

When to speak to a doctor

Musculoskeletal pain that hasn’t improved after 2 weeks can often be initially managed via a digital consultation. If the GP decides you need a face to face appointment, they will discuss what steps you can take next.

To speak to one of our Babylon GPs, download the app and create an account today.

It is important to speak urgently to a doctor if you are:

  • In very severe pain
  • Seeing swelling in the shoulder
  • Having numbness in the arm or hand


Musculoskeletal shoulder pain can be managed and prevented by:

  • Avoiding physically demanding work
  • Avoiding sports involving regular, repetitive movements

More information


The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.