Shoulder Pain and Injuries

Shoulder Pain and Injuries

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Chronic shoulder pain that disrupts your sleep or limits your ability to perform daily activities should not be ignored. Likewise, sports-related shoulder injuries need prompt, effective treatment to get you back in the game. Duke shoulder surgeons in Cary, Raleigh, Durham, and Wake Forest use conservative treatments, physical therapy, and minimally invasive surgery when necessary to reduce your pain and improve your function. 

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Duke Health orthopaedic clinics are located in Durham, Raleigh, Cary, and throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Duke Shoulder Specialists
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Why Does Your Shoulder Hurt?

Shoulder injuries and chronic shoulder pain are common among people ages 50 and older, as well as in younger athletes whose sports involve overhead reaching and throwing. In general, shoulder injuries and pain are caused by:

Sudden, Traumatic Injuries
Fractures, tears, and dislocations may occur during sports or recreational activities.

Arthritis and Bone Spurs
These develop over years of repetitive wear on the shoulder joint.

​​Overuse of the Shoulder Joint, leading to:

  • Swollen tendons
  • Bursitis -- inflammation of the bursa, the sac that cushions the joint
  • Shoulder impingement -- when the top of the shoulder rubs painfully against underlying tissues
  • Immobility, which can result in or be caused by frozen shoulder
  • Frozen shoulder, a thickening or tightening of the capsule of connective tissue that holds the shoulder together, which can occur: 
    • When illness or surgery keeps you from moving your arm for an extended time
    • In response to minor trauma
    • In the absence of trauma, particularly in women and people with diabetes

    When to Seek Immediate Care
    A severe shoulder injury, such as a fracture or other trauma, requires immediate medical care and may need to be evaluated in the emergency room.

    If you need to see an orthopaedic provider right away, many of our clinics have same-day and next-day appointments available.

    You can get immediate care at Duke’s Orthopaedic Urgent Care. We provide orthopaedic-specific care at two convenient locations seven days a week. You'll have the convenience of fast service with no unnecessary exposure to sick people.

Nonsurgical Treatments for Shoulder Injuries

Your doctor will use a variety of tests, including X-ray, MRI, and ultrasound imaging when needed, to evaluate your shoulder injury and determine the best course of treatment.

Conservative Treatments
Bracing, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, cortisone injections, and physical therapy may reduce your pain and help you regain your function. Our team includes specially trained orthopaedic physician assistants and nurse practitioners who work together to optimize your care.

Physical Therapy
 Many of our physical therapists specialize in shoulder injuries. They focus on exercises that strengthen your shoulder muscles, lessen pain, restore movement, and reduce your chance of re-injury. Our physical therapists can also tailor exercises to help you return to -- and possibly improve -- your sports performance. 

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Do You Need Shoulder Surgery?

Shoulder surgery may be recommended if you continue to have shoulder pain following conservative treatments, or if you are an athlete with high functional demands on your shoulder and want to return to your sport.

Extensive Experience
Our orthopaedic surgeons have completed advanced, fellowship training in shoulder surgery and, as a team, perform thousands of shoulder arthroscopies every year. Their minimally invasive approach uses small incisions and a lighted camera to diagnose and treat shoulder pain and injuries.

Advanced Surgical Procedures
Our shoulder surgeons use advanced surgical procedures that may improve your outcome and lower your risk for complications.

Recover Comfortably at Home
We are often able to perform outpatient surgery with regional anesthesia, so you can recover comfortably at home and return to your normal activities faster.

Expertise in Shoulder Replacement Surgery
Our expertise in performing shoulder replacement surgery -- also known as shoulder joint arthroplasty -- draws people with shoulder injuries from around the country, including people who have had failed shoulder replacement surgery elsewhere. 

Best Orthopaedic Hospital in North Carolina
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital's nationally ranked orthopaedics program was named the best in North Carolina.
Reviewed: 05/06/2018