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Feature Article

Shoulder pain: how to assess, when to refer

Zoe R. Brown, E. Michael Shanahan

Figures

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© CATALIN2015/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM MODEL USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY

Abstract

Shoulder pain is a common clinical problem in general and specialist practice. Investigation and treatment should be guided by the initial clinical findings and tailored to the patient’s symptoms. Referral for specialist advice is recommended for patients who need surgery or if red flags or refractory symptoms are present.

Key Points

  • Most shoulder problems are identified and managed in the primary care setting.
  • Clinical history and examination are integral to making a diagnosis.
  • Further investigations can be targeted to patients presenting with red flag features or for evaluation before surgical intervention.
  • Specialist referral of the patient should be directed with consideration to the aetiology of the problem and the likely required intervention.

Figures

© CATALIN2015/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM MODEL USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY
© CATALIN2015/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM MODEL USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY