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Shoulder Pain

Living with constant shoulder pain? It can ruin your day. It can keep you up at night. It can sideline you from doing all kinds of things.

When you reach into the cabinet, throw a ball to the dog or pick up a package off the front porch, thank your shoulders. They work hard. Sometimes so hard that they get injured or wear out — and start to hurt a lot. The good news? Treatment can often provide relief.

Our experienced orthopaedic team is here to help. We pinpoint what’s causing your shoulder pain and then work with you to create a personalized treatment plan. From medications to surgery to physical therapy, we’re here to help you find relief.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Shoulder Pain Care?

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Personalized care:

Your care plan may combine several different treatments, like injections, physical therapy or maybe even surgery. Your provider listens to your story, learns more about your symptoms and asks about your goals. They use this information to recommend the treatments they feel are best for you.

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Innovation and research:

Cleveland Clinic orthopaedic specialists have pioneered innovative methods and technologies used worldwide. This includes healing fractures with advanced techniques, building better artificial joints, repairing cartilage and biologically engineering and enhancing ligaments and tissue. Meet our team.

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Comprehensive treatment:

We first try to treat shoulder pain without surgery, using braces, medications and physical therapy. But if you need surgery, our board-certified surgeons treat simple to complex cases with arthroscopic or minimally invasive surgery, total joint replacements and more.

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Virtual visits:

Getting care should be convenient. That’s why we offer virtual visits for some appointments. If you have an internet connection and smartphone, tablet or computer, you can talk one-on-one with your providers from home, work or even your favorite coffee shop.

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National recognition:

Cleveland Clinic is a trusted healthcare leader. We're recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for our expertise and care.

Shoulder Pain Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic

Many things can cause shoulder pain — an injury, wear and tear to your bone or another medical condition. Here are just a few:

What to expect at your first visit

Before we even examine your shoulder, we’ll spend time getting to know you and learning more about what’s happening. We’ll want to hear about:

  • Your symptoms and pain level.
  • When the pain started.
  • If it’s getting worse.
  • How it affects your life.

Your provider will then do a physical exam. As part of this, they’ll move your shoulder around to see how well your joint works and if it’s painful. Certain tests during the exam can help them better zero in on what may be causing your pain.

Then, we may order some imaging tests to look inside your shoulder joint and see if you have damage to your bones or soft tissues. You may have:

  • X-rays: This lets us see if there are any bone changes from arthritis.
  • MRI or CT scan: These tests give us a detailed picture of your shoulder’s bones, cartilage, muscles and tendons.
  • Ultrasound: This test helps us see the inside of your shoulder without using radiation.

Meet Our Shoulder Pain Team

Your Cleveland Clinic care team could include providers from different specialties — all chosen to meet your needs and unique diagnosis. Your team could include:


Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio, Florida and London.

Shoulder Pain Treatment at Cleveland Clinic

Your care team works together to create your treatment plan. They go over your test results and talk with you about your recovery goals. Most shoulder conditions don’t usually need surgery. They can often get better with medication, rest and physical therapy. But your care plan depends on what’s causing your pain — and how bad it is. Your provider may recommend:

Rest and rehabilitation

Shoulder pain may go away with rest. We usually recommend you avoid motions you do over and over that can strain your shoulder joint. Icing your shoulder also helps reduce swelling and discomfort. You may need to wear a sling or splint to keep your shoulder supported or stable as it heals.

Your provider may refer you to a physical therapist to help you get strength back in your shoulder and increase your flexibility and range of motion. Your orthopaedist and physical therapist work together to track your progress and adjust your care plan if needed.

Medications and injections

To manage shoulder pain, we may recommend you take over-the-counter (OTC) medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin® or Aleve®). If that isn’t helping enough, your provider may recommend cortisone injections to reduce shoulder inflammation.


We may recommend surgery when other treatments haven’t relieved your pain. Or if you have severe shoulder damage that needs to be repaired. Our experienced orthopaedic surgeons could recommend shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement. If you have surgery, you’ll likely go to physical therapy while you recover to build up strength and movement.

Taking the Next Step

Constant shoulder pain doesn’t need to become a regular part of your life. There are many ways to treat and relieve it ­— often without surgery. Cleveland Clinic’s healthcare providers can help find out what’s causing your pain and go over the best treatment options for your unique needs. We want you to get back to living life as pain-free as possible

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s shoulder pain experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s shoulder pain experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.

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