We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more
For more information, go to

Shoulder pain

Print page Open all Reset all

How does the shoulder work?

Your main shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint, which allows a very wide range of movement. There’s also a smaller joint where the top of your shoulder blade meets your collarbone.

Read more >

What causes shoulder pain?

Most shoulder problems will only affect a small area and are fairly short-lived. Pain can be caused by problems with the muscles, tendons and other soft tissues. Sometimes shoulder pain is related to a problem in the neck or arthritis.

Read more >

Should I see a doctor about my shoulder pain?

You should see a doctor if:

  • your pain isn’t improving after about two weeks
  • you have a definite injury
  • you have severe pain or stiffness in both shoulders
  • you also feel feverish or generally unwell.
Read more >

What can I do to help myself when I have shoulder pain?

Try the following self-help tips:

  • Take painkillers.
  • Apply an ice pack.
  • Balance rest and exercise.
  • Check your posture.
  • Think about whether your daily activities might be contributing to your shoulder problem and what you can do to reduce the strain.
Read more >

How are specific shoulder conditions diagnosed?

A diagnosis of a specific shoulder conditions is usually based on your symptoms and an examination, but you may sometimes need:
  • blood tests
  • x-rays, ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
  • nerve conduction tests.
Read more >

Exercises to manage shoulder pain

Exercises to stretch, strengthen and stabilise the structures that support your shoulders. Read more >


Photo of Christine Walker

Give today to help fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis so that people like Christine can live a pain-free, active life.

Search arthritis information


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis. Open Mon–Fri 9am–8pm.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

Virtual Assistant

Our new Arthritis Virtual Assistant uses artificial intelligence to answer your arthritis related questions 24/7.

Ask a question
For more information, go to or call 0300 790 0400 to order the complete printed booklet.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.