Treatment for shoulder pain depends on its cause, but in many cases, the application of moist heat or ice helps to bring relief, according to WebMD. Anti-inflammatory medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are available over the counter and may bring relief. If the pain persists, prescription medication may help.
Some shoulder pain is due to strains from overexertion or tendinitis from overuse, reports WebMD. In these cases, the pain often resolves with conservative care at home.
Common causes of shoulder pain include inflammation or tears of tendons, joint instability, arthritis or fractures, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Doctors examine the shoulder using X-rays and other imaging techniques. In some cases, a surgeon may use a fiber optic camera to examine the joint in an arthroscopic procedure. Arthroscopic examinations sometimes reveal problems not visible with other diagnostic testing, and the surgeon may make repairs using the scope.
When shoulder pain accompanies tightness of the chest or difficulty breathing, it could be a sign of a heart attack, according to Mayo Clinic. Heart attacks require immediate emergency attention. Other conditions that require immediate medical care include joints that appear deformed, the inability to move the arm away from the body, sudden swelling and intense pain.