Shoulder pain

Shoulder pain and injuries may result from falls, heavy or repetitive lifting, heavy or prolonged overhead work, repetitive use of the shoulder, or arm, sports injuries, and underlying medical conditions such as arthritis, tendinopathy, impingement (bursitis), and thoracic outlet syndrome. Injuries may include strains, sprains, fractures, dislocations, tendinitis, and rotator cuff injuries.


May include pain, weakness, decreased range of motion, localized redness, and swelling.


If the employee has shoulder pain but is not sure what is causing his/her pain, he/she should first be evaluated by his/her personal physician. If the physician and employee think that the condition or injury is occupational, the employee should file a workers' compensation claim and call Employee Health Services for an appointment. Injuries and symptoms that occur while the employee is doing activities at work such as lifting, pushing, pulling, or activities that result in falls or accidents need to be seen by employee health. Injuries that do not occur at work and shoulder pain that has not resulted from a work task need to be treated by the employee's personal physician as these are not occupational. While awaiting evaluation and treatment, the employee may apply ice to the affected area for up to 15 minutes every hour. If the employee has no allergic or medical conditions associated with taking Advil or Tylenol, he/she may take one of these over-the-counter agents as directed. Severe injuries such as dislocations, possible fractures, and severe rotator cuff injuries should be evaluated emergently.

Work status

In most cases, the employee may work. If the condition is not occupational, the employee's personal physician is responsible for determining if the employee needs any work restrictions. If employee health is treating the employee, the employee health treater will make this determination.

Developed by Employee Health Services