Sometimes serious diseases or conditions may cause shoulder pain. These may include infections in the shoulder joint or the area around the shoulder. If you have reached this diagnosis risk page after answering the shoulder pain quiz, you should see a physician as soon as possible
Especially those caused by bacteria - may permanently damage the joint or even be life threatening. Some forms of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis and gout cause severe pain and inflammation in the joint. There are other types of arthritis which may require expert evaluation and testing to confirm. Rarely tumors or cancers in or around the shoulder may cause constant pain.
It is important to confirm the cause of the inflammation as soon as possible. Physicians use blood tests, and sometimes remove fluid from the joint for testing. X-rays may be normal and are often not as helpful early in the disease for detecting inflammation. Sometimes CT scans, ultrasound and MRI tests are ordered.
The warning signs that that a severe condition requiring immediate attention and treatment may be present include:
1. Having a fever, chills, night sweats, or unexplained weight loss.
2. Skin around the joint area is hot or red.
3. Pain never goes away, and worsens - often quickly.
4. Other joints (hands, knees, elbows, wrists) also have some of the same signs (painful swelling, warmth, stiffness, redness).
5. Joint is very tender to the touch, and the stiffness never goes away.
6. Constant pain at night, unable to find a comfortable position.
It is very important to have an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible, as treatment for the wrong condition may worsen the disease. Antibiotics are essential for infection, and sometimes the joint needs surgical attention to remove infected tissue or bone. For diseases such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis or others such as psoriatic arthritis, care from a specialist trained in treating these diseases is recommended. A rheumatologist is a physician who is specially trained to determine what kind of arthritis is present. Treatment of these conditions to prevent or reduce joint damage is often very effective, and remission is possible. Some diseases require medications that reduce inflammation by reducing the immune system's ability to cause joint damage.
If you develop shoulder pain with exercise or exertion, please contact your physician as this may be a sign of heart disease.
There are many newer medications for treating types of inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis.
Resources and information for the individual medications may be found at the following websites: