Shoulder pain is a common complaint, especially among people with an active lifestyle and those whose jobs involve repetitive overhead motions. A common reason for shoulder pain is a problem with the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that support the shoulder joint. When you report shoulder pain, your orthopedic surgeon would evaluate your condition using diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, MRI and a physical exam. Based on this evaluation, the orthopedic surgeon will make a diagnosis and then create a complete treatment plan for your specific condition or injury. In some cases, rest, medication, lifestyle modification and physical therapy can help the shoulder regain health and become mobile. However, in some cases surgery is the only solution to fix the shoulder and relieve your pain. In many cases, there is no single answer to shoulder pain. Many patients ask their orthopedic surgeon how would they know if they need surgery? This can’t be answered with a single ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There are several factors that contribute to your orthopedic surgeon’s decision of recommending a surgery for your shoulder pain – age, overall health, the kind of work you do, your dominant hand, your condition and the underlying reason and other considerations. Most orthopedic surgeons would first prescribe non-invasive or conservative treatments to allow your shoulder to heal. These could involve medication, physical therapy and interventional pain treatments, such as steroid injections. Many patients benefit from physical therapy and rehabilitation which can help to gain flexibility, restore range of motion (mobility), and build strength, balance, and function. If your orthopedic surgeon recommends shoulder surgery for a rotator cuff condition or injury, it could be rotator cuff repair or shoulder replacement. Once the surgery has been performed, you may have to wear a sling for 4 – 12 weeks and undergo 3 – 6 months of physical therapy to restore mobility, strength, balance, and function. Since ever individual is different, the period of recovery would vary. It mainly depends upon your age, the severity of the injury or condition, how long the pain has been there, previously used methods of treatment and other factors. Often, when physical therapy and rehabilitation do not prove effective in relieving pain or restoring shoulder mobility, surgery is the next step. Delaying surgery, once your orthopedic surgeon has advised it, may worsen your condition, even result in long-term disability. So, if you are suffering from shoulder pain, it is best to see an orthopedic doctor right away.