Shoulder Pain Treatment in Singapore

Written by Dr Gowreeson Thevendran, MBChB (Bristol), MRCS.Ed, Dip. Sports Med.Ed, FRCS.Ed (Trauma & Ortho. ), FAMS (Singapore)

What is Shoulder Pain?

The shoulder comprises several joints supported by muscles and tendons that make it possible for a wide range of motion. However, due to the complex structure of the shoulder, it is susceptible to various types of pain and issues.

In most cases, shoulder pain may arise from the rotator cuff, a group of muscles that stabilise the shoulder joint. The pain may result from the following:

  • Tendinitis: Irritation or damage to the rotator cuff. 
  • Bursitis: Inflammation and swelling of the bursa, which is a lubricating sac between the rotator cuff and the top shoulder bone. 
  • Impingement: Irritation and pain caused by friction between the top shoulder bone and the tendon and bursa.
  • Rotator Cuff Tear: Pain and swelling in the front of the shoulder.

Managing shoulder pain may vary from non-invasive OTC pain relief to surgical interventions, depending on the severity of the condition. An orthopaedic surgeon will be able to recommend various treatment options based on your current condition and symptoms.

Symptoms of Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can cause swelling and tenderness on the front of the shoulder. Initial symptoms might include: 

  • Sudden pain when lifting or lowering your arm
  • Minor pain when doing activities and at rest
  • Pain radiating from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm

As the condition progresses, you may experience: 

  • Decrease in strength
  • Inability to move the affected arm
  • Difficulty in performing specific motions
  • Discomfort at night

It is advisable to seek professional evaluation should these symptoms persist or worsen.

Diagnosing Shoulder Pain

The diagnosis typically begins with a range of assessments, which may include a physical examination (to assess the range of motion, strength, and stability of the shoulder joint), a review of medical history, activities, and any previous injuries or conditions that may contribute to the pain.

Diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays, ultrasound, or MRI scans, may also be used to help identify the underlying cause of your pain, such as a rotator cuff tear or tendinitis.

Non-surgical Shoulder Pain Treatment

In general, the treatment options for shoulder pain include:

  • Rest: To ensure optimal rest, you will be advised to avoid activities that may worsen the pain.
  • Heat or Ice Therapy: To help reduce inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy: To help improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion in the shoulder joint.
  • Medications: To help manage the pain and swelling.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to help repair or reconstruct damaged tendons or other structures in the shoulder joint.

Shoulder Pain Surgery

When shoulder pain persists despite non-surgical interventions, the specialist may recommend the following treatment based on your condition and needs:

  • Arthroscopic Surgery: This minimally invasive method involves making small incisions to insert a camera and specialised tools into the shoulder joint. It is often recommended for rotator cuff repairs, removal of inflamed tissue, or release of tight ligaments.
  • Open Surgery: For more complex conditions, such as large or complex rotator cuff tears, open surgery may be necessary. This involves a larger incision to directly access and repair the shoulder structures.
  • Shoulder Replacement: In cases of severe arthritis or massive irreparable rotator cuff tears, shoulder replacement surgery might be recommended. This involves replacing the damaged parts of the shoulder joint with artificial components.

Recovery Period for Shoulder Pain Surgery

The recovery period may vary based on the severity of the injury, the type of surgery performed, and your overall health. With proper treatment and care, minor injuries may heal within four weeks. Moderate injuries may take about six to eight weeks, while for severe injuries, healing may take up to six months to a year. If the shoulder pain is a result of an injury during sports activities, it is advisable to see a sports injury doctor in Singapore.

Dr Gowreeson Thevendran

MBChB (Bristol), MRCS.Ed, Dip. Sports Med.Ed, FRCS.Ed ( Trauma & Ortho. ), FAMS (Singapore)

Dr Gowreeson Thevendran is an orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore who specialises in lower limb orthopaedic conditions, trauma, and fracture surgeries of both the upper and lower limbs. He received his medical education from the University of Bristol and completed his surgical training in the UK and Canada. Before establishing his private practice, he served as Chief of Foot & Ankle Surgery, Department of Orthopaedics at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore.

Dr Gowreeson Thevendran’s Qualifications and Awards: Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, University of Bristol, England Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh Diplomate Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore SICOT PIONEER Founders Award 2020 2015 European Foot & Ankle Society ‘Best Podium Presentation’ Award 2013 Singapore Orthopaedic Association Junior Travelling Fellowship 2012 NHG Critical Talent Special Recognition Award 1998 Enid Lindt Prize in Clinical Surgery 1995 Public Services Department Full Medical Scholarship

Languages Spoken:

  • English, Malay, Tamil

Frequently Asked Questions About Shoulder Pain Treatment in Singapore

1What are the common causes of shoulder tendon pain?
Shoulder tendon pain is a common condition among athletes who use their arms overhead, such as professional baseball players, swimmers, tennis players and golfers. The improper use of techniques in any sport can also cause the overuse of tendons, which may result in shoulder tendon pain. Aside from athletes, people who work jobs that involve repetitive lifting and overhead work are also at risk of developing shoulder tendon pain. In less common cases, shoulder pain may arise from a minor injury or occur without apparent cause.
2Will shoulder tendon pain heal on its own?
Mild cases of tendinitis and bursitis may heal on their own in 6-8 weeks with adequate rest and conservative treatments. On the other hand, rotator cuff tears may vary greatly in size and could lead to a secondary tear if the initial injury is left untreated.
3What are the complications caused by shoulder tendon pain?
Early diagnosis and treatment of shoulder tendonitis are recommended to minimise long-term damage to the tendons. If left untreated, the pain in the shoulder tendon may worsen over time. You may experience loss of strength or motion in the affected arm, potentially making it difficult to move your arm behind your back or overhead. You may also feel numbness or tingling in your arms and hands.
4When to visit a specialist for shoulder pain?
Seeking specialist advice is recommended when you experience persistent pain in the shoulder, affecting your daily activities, or is accompanied by strength loss or mobility issues.
5What are the risks or complications of shoulder pain surgery?
Possible side effects of shoulder pain treatment may vary depending on the approach. Common side effects may include pain, swelling, bruising, and stiffness. In rare cases, more severe side effects, such as infection or nerve damage, may occur with surgery or certain medications.
6Does insurance and Medisave cover shoulder pain surgery?
At OrthofootMD, a range of orthopaedic treatments are covered by insurance plans and Medisave. However, patients are advised to get in touch with the clinic to confirm the eligibility of their shoulder pain treatment for Medisave claims and the extent of coverage under their insurance plan.

Clinic Location


OrthofootMD@Mount Alvernia Hospital

Dr Gowreeson Thevendran is currently an orthopaedic surgeon with Island Orthopaedic, a one-stop care centre for orthopaedic health under Healthway Medical Group. He specialises in treating lower limb orthopaedic conditions, as well as trauma and fracture surgery of both the upper and lower limbs. Prior to establishing his private practice, Dr Gowreeson was Chief of Foot & Ankle Surgery at the Department of Orthopaedics at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). Today, he continues to serve the Orthopaedic Department at TTSH as a visiting consultant.

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