Don’t Shrug Off Shoulder Pain

You wake up one morning with your shoulder feeling stiff and uncomfortable, and you suspect you may have slept in a bad position. It may get worse, or it may come and go, but if it doesn’t go away, don’t shrug off that shoulder pain.

Why Shoulder Pain?

Athletes both professional and the “weekend warrior” types can easily hurt their shoulders. Tennis players, football players, and baseball pitchers are quite susceptible to shoulder injuries. Poor form playing golf can also lead to shoulder pain. In reality, the repetitive motions of playing sports can lead to any number of injuries of the shoulder.

However, sports enthusiasts are not the only kind of people who suffer with shoulder pain. If you perform manual labor, are a builder, lift heavy things, or just fall off your bike, you can injure your shoulder. You can try ice and keep it immobile for a while, but if the pain persists, find out the cause.

woman sitting on the bed and holding painful shoulder with another hand.

Five Symptoms You Definitely Should Not Ignore

If you experience any of these symptoms in your shoulder, make an appointment with Dr. Samuel Koo, MD, MPH to discover the cause and get the appropriate treatment:

  • A clicking or popping sound in the joint
  • Persistent pain that becomes worse with movement
  • Shoulder pain that prevents you from sleeping
  • Inability to raise your arm above your head
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning sensation

What Could Be Causing Your Shoulder Pain?

The most common causes of shoulder pain include these injuries or conditions.


This occurs when the fluid-filled sac which cushions the bones, tendon, and muscles in the shoulder becomes inflamed. It causes an ache in the shoulder with stiffness and swelling. Limiting the use of the shoulder helps relieve the symptoms. If the pain does not subside, treatment can include medications, physical therapy, and injections.


Both repetitive motion or a sudden injury can lead to tendonitis. Using incorrect form playing sports puts extra stress on tendons. Rest and ice are the first treatments followed by physical therapy. Surgery is not needed unless a tendon has been torn.

Rotator Cuff Tear

This common injury occurs from wear and tear over time, and especially over the age of 40. It is prevalent among those who perform overhead motions at work or in sports. Symptoms include arm weakness, and treatments are more successful if a diagnosis is made early.

Dislocation/Separated Shoulder

When the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket, this is shoulder dislocation causing instability. Once it happens, it is likely to occur again called chronic shoulder instability. It can be from overuse or a sudden injury.

A separated shoulder is from a loose ligament and in this case the bones stay in place. Physical therapy can minimize the symptoms and help to strengthen the shoulder to improve stability.

Other causes of shoulder pain include osteoarthritis, a slap tear, or a frozen shoulder.

It is best to have any shoulder pain or ache examined by a specialist.

If you have any new or chronic shoulder pain, contact Dr. Samuel Koo at (425) 823-4000 or request an appointment online.

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COVID-19 Update

4/21/20 Update: Effective immediately, Dr. Koo is seeing patients through telehealth visits and in-person visits at our clinic. Call today to schedule your appointment!

Dr. Samuel Koo is closely following the most up-to-date announcements and information on the known cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Because this information is always changing, we will be monitoring all updated from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control.

To better serve you, Dr. Koo is now proud to offer virtual visits. With telehealth, you can meet with Dr. Koo from the comfort and safety of your own home. Please call our office today to learn more about this service or to schedule an appointment.

As of last Friday the governor of Washington state issued a declaration that all non-urgent or emergent surgical cases be postponed until the week of May 18th. For more information, please reach out to our office at (425) 823-4000.

Here are a few additional resources as well:

World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control