ZocdocAnswersIs the pain in my shoulder just a muscle cramp?

Question

Is the pain in my shoulder just a muscle cramp?

Feels like there is a knot of muscle in the back of my shoulder. Is this just a muscle cramp that won't go away? Any way to relax the muscle so the pain will go away?

Answer

I recommend that you go to see your primary care doctor about this issue, especially if the pain is worsenign or is not getting better. You are right that the most common cause of pain in the shoulder is muscle strain or muscle cramps. Typically these do get better with rest, ice, and over the counter anti inflammatory medications. However, there are several other more serious shoulder problems that should be ruled out, including damage to the tendons of the rotator cuff, prior to chalking this up to a muscle cramp. Your doctor will be able to perform a full examination of your shoulder, looking at stability and strength of the muscles and tendons as well as looking for any evidence of nerve pinching or other problems. In most cases, unless a serious problem is identified, they will recomend rest, pain medications, and gentle stretching exercises. However, more serious cases may require more targeted exercises or physical therapy. Additionally, the most serious shoulder problems generally require referral to an orthopedic shoulder specialist and sometimes additional tests, such as an MRI scan of the shoulder. Start by seeing your primary care doctor, you will help you figure out whether additional workup is needed or whether you just need to give this some more time.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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