Rapua he Ratoka Hauora
Find a Health Provider
Individual people respond differently to treatments for shoulder pain. How you respond to specific treatments of health providers depends on many things, for example, your lifestyle - your daily tasks, work, hobbies, sports and exercise - your health, beliefs, preferences and also on your past experiences.
It is important that you find a health care provider who listens to you and your whānau in terms of your concerns, your experiences, and what you expect from the treatment.
You may also choose your health provider based on your culture.
- Rongoā Māori is traditional Māori healing and can include spiritual healing, herbal remedies and physical therapies. Those physical therapies may include Miri miri. Information about Rongoā Māori is provided by Health Navigator New Zealand. A large range of Māori health providers can be found via the Ministry of Health website.
- Information specific for Pasifika health providers can also be found on the Health Navigator website.
- Information about Chinese Medicine can be found on the Acupuncture New Zealand website.
Below are health care providers that can help you with your shoulder pain. We include those that have to be registered with a professional board or organisation, have a strict code of conduct, and subscribe to evidence-based practice as well as deliver person-centered care. We also provide links for providers who are not registered with professional boards. Many people with shoulder pain find input from them helpful.
Physiotherapists work with people with a wide range of health problems. In New Zealand they are first-line practitioners, which means that you can make an appointment with them without a referral from a medical doctor. They can submit a claim on your behalf to ACC.
They are experts in assessing people with pain, help them improve movement, strength, and endurance, and improve physical activity. Physiotherapists are likely to prescribe exercises and provide advice on how to remain active. They may use manual therapy, acupuncture and other modalities as part of their treatments.
They help people to understand their pain and support them to self-manage their pain or problem.
Physiotherapists can make recommendations for referral to other health care professionals, in which case they may refer you to your GP for further advice.
Physiotherapists must be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand. They may become a specialist physiotherapist, e.g. in sports physiotherapy, musculoskeletal physiotherapy, pain, and many other fields.
General Practitioners (GPs)
A general practitioner (GP) is usually your main health provider in your community.
The GP will assess your injury or pain, make a diagnosis and provide initial advice for self-management and what your treatment options are. They will make decisions with you about medication. If needed, they may refer you for an X-ray or other medical tests for shoulder pain. They coordinate referrals to other health care providers, for example orthopaedic specialists, if needed.
In New Zealand they are registered with the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP).
Osteopathy is a holistic form of healthcare and most commonly work with people with musculoskeletal disorders. Osteopaths use a form of manual medicine and are skilled in evaluation and a wide range of hands-on techniques. They may also recommend individual exercise programs and relaxation techniques.
In New Zealand, osteopaths are first line practitioners, thus can be seen without a referral by a GP. They can also submit a claim to ACC on your behalf.
Osteopaths are registered with the Osteopathic Council of New Zealand.
Massage or soft tissue therapists use manual skills to improve movement. There are many different forms of massage therapy, such as Swedish massage, myofascial releases, and trigger point therapy.
In New Zealand, they are not regulated by a professional Board, but can be members of Massage New Zealand.
Psychologists assess and treat people who have various levels of problems of psychological well-being. They use various therapies, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness, interpersonal therapy and family therapy. They do not prescribe medication. They may also be called mental skills coaches or counsellors. Clinical psychologists are those that are members of the NZ College of Clinical Psychologists (NZCCP).
Pain can lead to depression, anxiety or loneliness. Some psychologists have specific training to assess and help people with painful conditions. They may work as part of an inter-disciplinary health care team, or independently.
You can talk to your GP or physiotherapist to find out whether a psychologist would be helpful for you, and to help you with a referral.
Psychologists are registered with the New Zealand Psychologists Board.
Occupational Therapists (OTs)
Occupational therapists work with people of all ages and help them to get back to their daily, social and recreactional activities, and work. They use purposeful activities or equipment to help clients to take care of themselves and to stay active. They also use counselling skills to enhance social interactions and relationships, stress management, lifestyle behaviour and well-being.
Some occupational therapists have more training in pain management, rehabilitation, mental well-being, and workplace well-being. They often work as part of an inter-disciplinary health care team, but can also practise independently.
Occupational therapists are registered with the Occupational Therapy Board of New Zealand.
Sport and Exercise Medicine Physicians
Sport and exercise medicine physicians have completed training to assess patients with musculoskeletal injuries and medical problems due to sports, exercise or other physical activities. That includes injuries to the shoulder.
Sports and exercise physicians can prescribe exercise and provide advice about general physical activity. They also prescribe medications, administer injections, make referrals for further investigations (for example, blood tests, X-rays, Ultrasound imaging, MRI and other tests).
Your physiotherapist or GP can refer you to a Sport and Exercise Medicine Physician.
To be a specialist, they must be registered as a Fellow with the Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians (ACSEP).
Orthopaedic surgeons are specialists that assess patients with musculoskeletal injuries and orthopaedic problems. They assess patients with shoulder pain and provide advice regarding advanced care. That may include medication, injections and surgery.
Their assessments may include referrals for investigations (for example, blood tests, X-rays, Ultrasound imaging, MRI and other tests).
You must be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon by your GP. The GP will make decisions with you about such a referral.
Orthopaedic surgeons are registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand.
Acupuncturist - Chinese Medicine
Chinese medicine may include acupuncture, moxibustion (the heating of specific acupuncture points using the herb Artemisia), or tui na (Chinese massage). Accupuncture is used mainly to decrease pain and improve movement. Acupuncturists can also provide advice about lifestyle factors and exercise.
Members of Acupuncture New Zealand can be Treatment Providers for ACC. Patients would need to open an ACC claim with their GP or physiotherapist, and may need to pay a surcharge for the acupuncurist's treatment. You can decide to consult with an acupuncturist without being referred by your GP or physiotherapist.