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  • Writer's pictureLoren Wooldridge

The Reality of Shoulder Pain: Will it Disappear on its Own?

Shoulder pain is a common complaint that many individuals experience at some point in their lives. Whether it's a dull ache, a sharp twinge, or a constant discomfort, the pain can significantly impact one's daily activities and overall quality of life. A prevailing question that often arises is, "Will shoulder pain go away on its own?" As a physical therapist with years of experience, I aim to shed light on this issue, to help you understand why shoulder pain might not simply vanish without intervention.


Understanding the Complexity of Shoulder Pain:


shoulder bones
Shoulder Anatomy

The shoulder joint is one of the most mobile and complex joints in the human body. It allows for a wide range of motion, making it susceptible to various injuries and conditions. From rotator cuff injuries to tendonitis and bursitis, the causes of shoulder pain are diverse. Unlike some minor aches and pains that may resolve with time, shoulder pain often persists due to the intricate nature of the shoulder joint and the potential for underlying issues.



Basic Research Insights:


Several studies indicate that shoulder pain tends to linger rather than spontaneously disappearing. A study published in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery highlighted the chronic nature of shoulder pain, emphasizing that early intervention is crucial for successful outcomes. Another study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that patients with untreated shoulder pain often experienced a decline in shoulder function and increased discomfort over time.


The Role of Lifestyle and Habits:


shoulder assessment
Dr. Loren assessing a shoulder in the clinic

While some acute shoulder pain may result from overuse or minor injuries that can resolve with rest, more chronic and persistent shoulder issues may require targeted interventions. Repetitive movements, increased shoulder demand, high stress, and acute trauma can contribute to the development and exacerbation of shoulder pain. Ignoring these contributing factors can lead to a continuous cycle of discomfort and limited mobility.



Why Waiting Might Not Be the Best Option:


Choosing to wait and see if shoulder pain resolves on its own may not be the most prudent approach. Without appropriate intervention, the underlying issues may worsen, leading to more extensive damage, more compensation causing different issues, and a longer recovery period. Additionally, persistent pain can affect the surrounding muscles and joints, potentially resulting in compensatory movements that further exacerbate the problem.


The Importance of Professional Intervention:


Shoulder treatment
Dr. Loren treating a shoulder in the clinic

As a physical therapist, my experience has taught me that addressing shoulder pain early on can prevent it from becoming a chronic issue. Physical therapy interventions, such as targeted exercises, manual therapy, and workout modifications, can effectively alleviate pain, improve range of motion, and strengthen the shoulder muscles. Seeking professional help can make a significant difference in managing and resolving shoulder pain.


Shoulder pain is not something to be taken lightly or ignored in the hopes that it will disappear on its own. Basic research and clinical experience emphasize the importance of early intervention to prevent chronic issues and restore optimal shoulder function. If you're grappling with shoulder pain, consulting with a physical therapist here at The Health Lab can provide personalized guidance and interventions to address the root cause and pave the way for a healthier, pain-free shoulder. Remember, taking action today can make a substantial difference in your shoulder's well-being tomorrow. If you're ready to end your shoulder pain for good, schedule a free discovery visit here!

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