Work-Related Shoulder Pain: Causes & Treatment

A male warehouse employee helping a female coworker who is holding her shoulder in pain after suffering a shoulder injury.

Common shoulder injuries explained by experienced NY orthopedic surgeons

Pain from shoulder injuries affects millions of workers in various industries. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), shoulder pain affects 18% to 26% of adults at some point in their lives. Sometimes the pain can be intolerable, forcing people to miss work. Fortunately, many treatment options are available to help alleviate and manage work-related shoulder pain.

Island Musculoskeletal Care (IMC Bone Doc) is a well-known medical practice in New York staffed with board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons who have over 100 years of combined medical experience. After diagnosing your shoulder injury, our team can explain the various medical procedures that apply to your specific condition, allowing you to choose the best approach. In addition, our medical practice is in-network with most major insurance providers, and our surgeons are certified to handle work-related injuries covered by workers’ compensation insurance in New York.

To learn about the most effective treatments for your work-related shoulder injury, schedule an appointment with IMC Bone Doc. Our seven clinics in greater New York City and Long Island offer immediate appointments, including many same-day options. We strive to schedule all your treatments at one convenient location. You can easily make an appointment online or by calling us.

How do shoulder injuries happen?

The upper arm bone (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula), and collarbone (clavicle) all come together to form the shoulder. A network of ligaments, tendons, and muscles provides stability and mobility to the shoulder. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, a type of joint where a spherical-shaped bone fits into a cuplike cavity of another bone. This type of joint is very flexible and has an extensive range of motion, making the shoulder more prone to injury.

Workplace shoulder injuries can happen from a one-time accident or slowly develop over time. Some of the most common causes of shoulder pain in the workplace include:

  • Awkward movements: Maintaining awkward positions can put additional stress on the shoulder joint and lead to pain. Construction workers, roofers, and plumbers are especially prone to this type of injury.
  • Repetitive motions: Repeating the same movement can lead to shoulder pain over time.
  • Slip and falls: Employees in any line of work can suffer a shoulder injury from a slip and fall accident. Uneven flooring and slick surfaces can cause workers to slip, fall, and injure their shoulders.
  • Lifting and pushing heavy objects: Lifting and pushing heavy objects can strain the shoulder, especially with poor lifting techniques.

Common types of shoulder injuries

Regardless of your profession, you could experience a shoulder injury. From mild discomfort to severe pain, shoulder injuries should always be taken seriously and diagnosed by a medical professional. Some of the most common types of shoulder injuries include:

  • Rotator cuff tears: This injury happens when the tendons and muscles attached to the shoulder blade and upper arm tear. Symptoms include pain, weakness, and limited mobility.
  • Dislocated shoulder: Shoulder dislocation occurs when the upper arm bone completely disconnects from the socket. Symptoms include severe pain and visible swelling.
  • Bursitis: This condition happens when the tiny sacs of fluid that cushion the shoulder joint (bursae) become inflamed. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness.
  • Fractures: The bones that make up the shoulder can break from a workplace accident such as a fall, sudden twisting movement, or impact. The shoulder will appear bruised, swollen, and tender to the touch.


A doctor will recommend the proper treatment for your specific shoulder injury. Rest, ice, and physical therapy might be sufficient if your shoulder injury is minor. Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also help with pain and inflammation. For more severe shoulder injuries, you may need a more in-depth personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Steroid injections are an option that can be helpful if your shoulder pain is not going away. However, in some cases, surgery may be required.

Learn how an orthopedic surgeon can help with your shoulder pain

Dealing with work-related shoulder pain can be a frustrating and debilitating experience. Fortunately, there are many effective treatment options available that can help you find relief and improve your quality of life. The orthopedic surgeons at IMC Bone Doc have the knowledge and experience to help you find the best way to manage your pain. If you suffered a shoulder injury at work, contact us to schedule an appointment.

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