The shoulder is notorious for taking a long time to heal after an injury, even if the injury isn't considered severe. It's a complex joint with several muscles, tendons, and bones, and it has a generous range of motion. All of these factors make it extremely vulnerable to injury.
People of all ages are susceptible to shoulder pain, and it's the most injured joint. Pain can develop over time or from a sudden event. Athletes fall into both categories because overuse (weights, baseball, football, volleyball, etc.) can lead to pain just as easily as a sudden injury (collisions, falls, overextension). No matter how the pain got there, get medical attention. With the shoulder, sooner is best because even a small tear won't heal by itself. It will only get worse if ignored, never better.
Seeing a doctor early can help avoid a full-tear repair surgery that could be followed by as long as 18 MONTHS of recovery. Partial-tear repair surgery is slightly less than that. Recovery from nonsurgical procedures is usually closer to 4-6 months—still a long time, but better than the year-plus or year-and-a-half alternatives.
Recovery begins with many weeks of immobilization, many more weeks of “passive” (therapist moves your arm for you) then "active" (you move your own arm) therapist-guided exercises, and finally, several weeks or months of self-guided exercises. Assuming you chose the right doctor, stick to the recovery program, and don't re-injure your shoulder, you'll likely get great results after all this.
A board certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in shoulder repair is the best choice for properly diagnosing and treating shoulder pain. Because of the complexity of the shoulder area, choosing the right surgeon, whether you need surgery or not (about 90% don't), is crucial to minimizing recovery time and maximizing results. An “expert” needs to have this key combination: excellent medical training AND experience treating patients with a wide variety of shoulder issues. Our practice has doctors who are true experts in the shoulder area.