Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is a common muscle joint and bone symptom.

We have designed a three-step approach to help you understand your options and encourage you to think about all of the things that might be affecting your problem.
Shoulder pain

Where is it felt?

Shoulder pain is mainly felt in the shoulder and upper arm.

How could it affect me?

  • The symptoms can be felt with simple day to day activities such as reaching above shoulder height, washing your hair, putting clothes on/off
  • Shoulder pain can affect our ability to carry out daily activities, including work and hobbies
  • At times the pain can feel severe and for some be ongoing. This can affect our general well-being and mental health

Why does it happen?

Shoulder pain can start because of an injury (for example a fall onto the shoulder), from doing more than you normally do (for example increased activity or exercise) or it can also start for no obvious reason.

It can affect any of us at any age.

Is it serious?

Although the pain and disability caused by an episode or flare of shoulder pain can be severe at first, it is not always a sign of serious injury or damage.


If you have had a recent fall or injury and you are unable to move the arm or shoulder you need to be further assessed in a minor injuries department if you live in Gwent.

If you are feeling unwell, sick or have a fever with shoulder pain make an appointment at your GP practice.

If you are noticing increasing stiffness in your shoulder that is not just related to pain consider seeking further help or contact your GP.

Will it get better?

The answer for most people is yes as most symptoms will ease in the first 2 to 6 weeks for a new onset of shoulder pain or a flare-up of longstanding shoulder pain.  It can take some people longer to get back to their normal and some describe ongoing problems.

Taking steps to look after your physical and mental health can give the best opportunity of a successful recovery.

What can I do to help myself?

Some of the most important things you can do to help your shoulder pain are related to your lifestyle choices and general health. We have provided some useful links to help guide you through.

The information in Step Two and Step Three explains the factors that can affect the severity and impact of muscle joint and bone symptoms.

Step Two explains the factors that may be contributing to your situation.

Step Three explains self-management advice on what you can do to help yourself.

Following the 3-step process will help you make the most out of the information on this website.

Learn more about:

Alongside the self-management advice in Step Three, some general exercises for shoulder pain can be helpful to support a gradual return to normal movement and function.

What can be done to help me?

An assessment of your problem and treatment may be necessary if the self-management advice in Step 3 does not help. Consider seeking further help.

If you continue to be concerned about the symptoms you are experiencing and are unsure what to do contact your GP practice or ring NHS Wales 111.