What Kind of Doctor Do You Go To For Shoulder Pain?

As a Physical Therapist, I see hundreds of people each year who have shoulder pain. They usually make their way into my clinic after seeing a doctor because their shoulder hurts.

But how did those people know what kind of doctor to go to for shoulder pain?

Your family physician may be comfortable assessing and even treating your shoulder pain. However, they may refer you to a D.O. or M.D. with a specialty in Sports Medicine. A referral to an Orthopedic Surgeon may also be appropriate as they may order special tests to see why your shoulder is injured.   If your shoulder can be treated conservatively, your physician may send you to a Physical Therapist for strengthening and pain control.

Doctor shoulder pain

Health professionals who can diagnose and manage shoulder pain include:

– Orthopedic Surgeons

– Family Medicine Physicians

– Family Med Physicians with Sports Medicine focus

– Physiatrist (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Physician)

Doctor of Physical Therapy

When Should I See a Doctor For My Shoulder Pain?

If your shoulder pain hasn’t resolved on its own in 1 to 2 weeks, you should check in with your doctor. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should wait two weeks before seeing someone about your shoulder.

If you’re like most of my patients who have a nagging pain in their shoulder, they end up putting it off for weeks or even months.

The sooner you see your doctor, the quicker you can begin treatment to resolve the issue.

The bottom line?

If you are experiencing shoulder pain that just won’t go away, make an appointment with your family doctor or an orthopedist (Orthopedic Surgeon) who can help you in finding the right solution to manage your shoulder pain.  Putting it off for a long time may lead to further injury or damage.

Remember: Be your own advocate and ask if Physical Therapy would be an appropriate treatment option!

Shoulder Braces

1. Shoulder Stability Brace

This shoulder brace may be appropriate for acute shoulder pain resulting from strains, rotator cuff tear, labral tears, or dislocations. For less than $20, it’s an affordable way to stabilize your shoulder as you seek further care from a professional. 

2. Compressive Sleeve Brace 

This brace provides compressive forces to stabilize the shoulder after injuries such as dislocations, AC joint injuries, rotator cuff strains/tears, bursitis, and tendonitis.  Use of this brace should be accompanied by further consult with a shoulder specialist to rule out an injury that requires closer medical care. 


Keep Reading: How to Relieve Shoulder Pain

shoulder pain

Tim Fraticelli DPT, MBA, CFP®

Tim Fraticelli is a Physical Therapist, Certified Financial Planner™ and founder of PTProgress.com. He loves to teach PTs and OTs ways to save time and money in and out of the clinic, especially when it comes to documentation or continuing education. Follow him on YouTube for weekly videos on ways to improve your financial health.