SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT

DIAGNOSE YOUR SHOULDER: A PATIENT GUIDE

Shoulder Problems

Shoulder injuries, arthritis and inflammation in and around joints are common problems in adults, often causing severe pain, discomfort and immobility. Follow this chart to help you talk to your doctor about your shoulder problem.

Shoulder Self-Diagnosis

Begin Here

SYMPTOMS

1

Did you hit, injure or fall on your upper arm or shoulder recently?

Yes

No →

2

Did you feel your shoulder pop out of place and/or pop back into place?

Yes →

No

3

Is your upper arm swollen or misshaped?

Yes →

No

4

Is your collarbone tender, or do you have a bump on it?

Yes →

No

5

Is there tenderness or pain near the shoulder-end of your collarbone, and does lifting your arm with your uninjured arm help the pain?

Yes →

No

6

Does pain come with a twisting motion of your arm, or does a throwing motion cause pain, and does your shoulder seem weak?

Yes →

No

7

Do you have a fever?

Yes

No →

8

Do you have redness or swelling around your shoulder?

Yes →

No

9

Within the last month have you had a sore throat or a skin infection?

Yes →

10

Do you have redness and swelling in more than one joint, including your shoulder?

Yes →

No

11

Do you feel pain when you move your shoulder but there's no swelling or redness?

12

Do you have increasing stiffness and inability to move your shoulder?

Yes →

No

For more information, please talk to your doctor. If you think the problem is serious, call your doctor right away

DIAGNOSIS

Go to
Question 7

Your SHOULDER may be or may have been DISLOCATED

Your HUMERUS (upper arm bone) may be FRACTURED

Your CLAVICLE (collarbone) may be FRACTURED

Your SHOULDER may be SEPARATED

You may have a TORN ROTATOR CUFF or SHOULDER INSTABILITY

Go to Question 10

You may have INFLAMMATION in or around a joint, also called BURSITIS, or a serious INFECTION of the bone, the joint or the skin

These symptoms may be from RHEUMATIC FEVER, a reaction to a strep infection

You may have RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, a disease affecting the immune system, or GOUT, an inflammation of the shoulder joint.

You may have BURSITIS or ROTATOR CUFF SYNDROME

You may have ADHESIVE CAPSULITIS, also called a FROZEN SHOULDER

SELF–CARE

See your doctor right away

EMERGENCY
Call your doctor or go to the emergency room right away.

Call your doctor right away. Use a sling to restrict movement of your arm and use an analgesic, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve pain until you see your doctor.

Call your doctor right away. Use a sling to restrict movement of your arm and use an analgesic, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve pain until you see your doctor.

See your doctor

URGENT
See your doctor right away

URGENT
See your doctor right away

See your doctor. Apply heat to the affected area and take an anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, for pain

Use an anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, and apply heat to the affected area. If your symptoms do not improve, see your doctor

See your doctor. This condition is usually treated with special exercises you can do on your own