What is a Shoulder Specialist Called?

shoulder specialist

If you’ve injured your shoulder, you might want to see a shoulder specialist. Shoulder specials include: Orthopedic Surgeons, Physiatrists, Sports Medicine Physicians, and Orthopedic Physical Therapists.

People in these professions have extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of shoulder injuries.  They should be your first line of defense for managing your shoulder pain.

Depending on your state or insurance plan, you may be required to make an appointment with your Family Medicine Physician before seeing one of the specialists above. Some Family Med Physicians specialize in sports injuries, so it’s helpful to ask them what options are available to treat your shoulder.

Finding the Best Shoulder Specialist

The specialists listed above can have extensive training in specific body regions.  Many specialists have completed a fellowship in their field of study.

Orthopedic Surgeons

Some have extra training in the form of a Sports Med Orthopedic Fellowship, or even a Sports Med Shoulder and Elbow Fellowship.

Physical Therapists

A PT with an OCS certification means they are an “Orthopedic Clinical Specialist” and have additional training in orthopedic issues such as shoulder injuries.

Sports Medicine Physicians

Some physicians receive additional training in the non-surgical management of sports injuries. Many shoulder injuries fall into this umbrella term ‘sports injury’ even though you may not have been injured while playing a sport.

The Bottom Line: Do your research and ask your doctor who they recommend for the treatment of your painful shoulder.  Personally, I would rely on any of the above healthcare professionals and avoid people who aren’t medically trained and licensed.  When it comes to an injury or pain in a joint, you’re better off going to a professional who treats the shoulder every day.


Tim Fraticelli, DPT Physical Therapist

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.