How can I tell if my shoulder pain is serious?

Should I be worried about my shoulder pain?  Shoulder pain is definitely not a nice thing to have and it is one of the most common complaints we see (alongside back and knee pain).  Shoulder pain can happen due to many reasons such as:
  • Injuries or accidents – A fall or trip, or from pulling or lifting something heavy or awkwardly  (this can be covered under ACC, you won’t need to see your GP, you can come straight to us).
  • Systemic issues – arthritis, frozen shoulder, cancer.
  • Overuse or poor posture or mechanics.
  • Referred pain from other areas of the body, such as neck, heart, lungs or other organs.

How can I tell if the pain in my shoulder is serious?

If you are experiencing:

Call 111 immediately. This could be a sign of a heart attack.

Seek urgent medical attention if you have suffered a severe injury and your shoulder has become very painful, swollen, or bruised and/or is bleeding.

When should I see my GP?

See your GP if you are experiencing the following:
  • The shoulder pain is unbearable, you are experiencing a fever, swelling or redness.
  • You wake up at night with moderate to severe pain, plus you have night sweats, possibly a fever, and there has been unexplained weight loss and unrelenting pain.

When should I come to Top Notch?

See a Top Notch Osteopath if you are experiencing the following:
  • You have had a fall or tripped, lifted a weight or something heavy in the garden. These are normal injuries that our  osteopaths can help with.    You can come straight to our osteopaths, you do not need to see your GP to raise an ACC claim, we can do that for you.
  • You are not under our care and you have been having pain for more than 2-4 weeks.    We do advise early and quick treatment so that you can avoid any long term complications, but more importantly you can get back to doing what you want sooner. 
  • You are under care of a physiotherapist, we can work along side if the pain is causing difficulty.    We believe it is important to collaborate with other health professionals because it may be that you need several approaches.  We know that by working together – you get what is needed from all aspects – decrease the pain, increase the movement, or referral to specialists (if required). 
  • You require surgery, and the pain is still there everyday. We can help you to prehab.    Prehab is so important prior to surgery, possibly you are hindered due to the pain, we can help you to start the journey now. Then post-surgery we can resume care when safe so you can keep the momentum and avoid any long term complications as much as possible. 

How exactly does an osteopath help with shoulder pain?

Our highly trained osteopaths at Top Notch have achieved Masters (Level 7) in everything body related – including how to manage your shoulder pain with hands-on therapy.

You can read how we assess, treat and manage shoulder issues here.

Anj Young founded Top Notch Bodyworks. She was a fitness instructor for the RNZAF for 13 years, a qualified physical therapist, massage therapist, osteopath and mentor. Her and the team at Top Notch Bodyworks know their stuff and can help support you with your body concerns. Our osteopaths and neuromuscular therapists are also qualified to work with you at any stage of your injury or ongoing concerns.