Patient resource: Non-urgent shoulder and elbow problems during COVID-19 outbreak


In trying to help patients with non-urgent shoulder and elbow problems during the COVID-19 crisis, members of BESS have used their expertise to select appropriate and up to date medical advice links on the internet to help you during the outbreak. These will not substitute a face to face consultation with your GP, specialist or allied health professional. However, in these exceptional circumstances, provided you understand these limitations, these resources may help with your symptoms or recovery until such time as normal services resume.

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General information

Shoulder and elbow conditions

Where can I get some general information about Shoulder and Elbow conditions?

These are meant for GPs and clinicians, but patients may find some aspects of these helpful:

BESS Patient Care Pathways

BESS Subacromial Shoulder Pain – patient resource

Versus Arthritis – Shoulder Pain Booklet


Where can I get some general information about physiotherapy?

Chartered Institute of Physiotherapy

BESS Patient Care Pathways

Use of anti-inflammatories

Can I continue to take anti-inflammatories for my shoulder or elbow pain during the Coronavirus outbreak?

There is currently no strong evidence that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can make coronavirus (COVID-19) worse.

But until we have more information, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you.

If you have no coronavirus symptoms and regularly take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) for pain relief, carry on taking it as usual. If you develop coronavirus symptoms, ask your doctor about changing to paracetamol instead.

Find up to date information from the NHS here

Shoulder information


Can I do some shoulder exercises to alleviate my shoulder arthritic pain whilst I wait for my shoulder replacement?

Versus arthritis

Shoulder arthritis stretches and exercises – ask Doctor Jo

I have shoulder arthritis but have been told I need a steroid injection. What can I do whilst I wait to have the injection?

Versus arthritis – shoulder pain exercises

Can I have a steroid injection for my shoulder arthritis at the moment?

There is concern that steroids can increase risk from the coronavirus (COVID-19). Because of this, NHS authorities advise that alternatives to steroid injections should be considered. Therefore, it is unlikely that any practitioner will offer you a steroid injection until the coronavirus outbreak has passed.

Clinical NHS advice is here

Shoulder dislocation

I have just dislocated my shoulder but can’t get to see anyone, what general advice is there?

NHS dislocated shoulders

I have just dislocated my shoulder: Can I get any physiotherapy advice to start making it feel better?

I am waiting to have a keyhole operation on my shoulder, but this has been postponed, can I do some physiotherapy at home?

It is always helpful to do exercises for the shoulder to help maintain strength of the muscles and mobility of the joint, this may also aid your recovery after surgery. You could follow any of the suggested exercises below:

Frozen shoulder

I have a frozen shoulder but cannot access any treatment at the moment, where can I get some general advice?

Mayo Clinic – Frozen shoulder

I want to continue my physiotherapy treatment for frozen shoulder but that has been postponed, is there an online exercise programme?

Rotator cuff tear

I think that I have injured my rotator cuff, what is the best advice as I cannot see my doctor?

Treating the pain as we treat any subacromial pain will help ease your symptoms:

BESS Subacromial shoulder pain booklet

The exercises below are useful to do when you have had a significant rotator cuff injury and are often prescribed to help patients avoid and or recover from rotator cuff surgery:

I have had rotator cuff surgery recently and am halfway through my rehabilitation. Where can I find resources online to help me finish my recovery?

We would recommend speaking to your rehabilitation team over the phone where possible to find out where you are in your recovery and what your therapist advises. 

These NHS YouTube videos will help you progress through your rehabilitation programme

Subacromial pain/ impingement

I have been told I have impingement; can I treat this myself whilst I am waiting to see someone?

BESS Subacromial shoulder pain booklet

Elbow information

Elbow stiffness

I have had a fracture/operation/ injury to my elbow and it is stiff, are there are online physiotherapy exercise that I can do to improve my range of motion?

Please see see the below links to some exercises:

Forearm rotation range

Flexion Extension range

Forearm rotation range over head

Elbow strengthening from 6 weeks

Elbow range and strengthening from 6 weeks

Tennis elbow

I have got tennis elbow, where can I get advice on the general management of tennis elbow?

NHS – Conditions: Tennis elbow

I want to continue my physiotherapy, but I can’t see my therapist. Are there any videos online to help?

Elbow arthritis

Where can I find some general advice about elbow arthritis?

Versus Arthritis – elbow pain information booklet

I have pain in my elbow, can I find general advice about what it could be and how to manage it?

NHS Inform – exercises for elbow problems