Patient Information Resources

Centre for Orthopaedics
Suite 10-33/34/35 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore, 329563, Singapore
Ph: (65) 6684 5828
Fax: (65) 6684 5829

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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I went to my doctor for new symptoms of shoulder pain. She wants to use the wait-and-see approach. She says most shoulder pain goes away by itself. Is this a standard way to treat this problem? I'm a little dubious.

Actually the wait-and-see approach is part of a protocol called Practice Guidelines for Shoulder Pain used here in the United States and in other countries. The practice guidelines have only been around for the last five years or so. This treatment is useful in the first two to four weeks after the start of symptoms.

Some doctors may prescribe analgesics or even anti-inflammatories during this waiting period. Treatment decisions are based on the physical exam and known factors for a poor outcome. Studies have shown that the longer you've had the pain and the more intense the pain is at the time of your first doctor's visit, the poorer your results will be.

In cases like this, instead of recovering in two to four weeks, it takes six weeks to six months (or more) to get back to normal. Even with a short wait-and-see approach, earlier treatment with drugs or physical therapy can make a difference in the long run. Make sure you go back to the doctor if your symptoms aren't resolved by the end of a month's time.


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