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Rotator Cuff Disorders

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When To Call a Doctor

Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if shoulder or arm pain occurs with chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack, such as shortness of breath and nausea.

Call your doctor immediately if you have an injury to your shoulder and:

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  • Your shoulder is very painful.
  • Your shoulder appears to be deformed.
  • You cannot move your shoulder normally.
  • You have signs of damage to the nerves or blood vessels, such as numbness; tingling; a "pins-and-needles" sensation below the injury; or pale, cold, or bluish skin.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have had a shoulder problem in the past and you have shoulder pain.
  • Your shoulder pain or stiffness is getting worse.
  • Home treatment is not helping.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a period of time during which you and your doctor observe your symptoms or condition without using medical treatment. A watchful waiting period may vary from a few days to weeks or possibly months. Watchful waiting is not appropriate if:

  • Pain in your shoulder is unbearable.
  • Your shoulder is deformed.
  • You have loss of feeling in the shoulder.
  • The skin around your shoulder is pale, cold, or bluish.

Who to see

Health professionals who can diagnose and manage rotator cuff disorders include:

For treatment, you may be referred to a specialist, such as:

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 04, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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