When you hear the word chiropractor, what typically comes to mind? Neck pain? Back pain? Joint pain? Many people don’t often associate chiropractic care with shoulder pain. However, if truth be told, chiropractic care is one of the most effective ways to treat shoulder pain. This is especially true at Elite Spine Centres with our unique system of care and treatment options available
While chiropractic care is often sought by people who are looking for relief from back or neck pain, it’s not limited to health concerns that are related to the spine alone. Chiropractic care is also considered highly beneficial for those who are suffering from pain associated with the shoulders and the extremities.
The root causes of shoulder pain can be complex, and often may involve several overlapping factors. Many times irritation or damage to soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) in or around the shoulder complex may be present. Without diagnosis or treatment of the root cause, severe pain and stiffness may persist.
Often overlooked by other doctors or therapists are joint restrictions and irritations which may lead to soft tissue imbalances. Shoulder pain treatment under the guidance of our well-trained chiropractors will often involve therapies to the soft tissues as well and manipulation to the shoulder complex or spine as needed.
Just like any other pain condition, the sooner appropriate care is given, the quicker it will disappear and the faster the patient can get back to their daily routine. More importantly, the sooner appropriate care and guidance are sought, the less likely it is for patients to develop recurrent or chronic problems, which could potentially result in partial disability.
Those who are unsure of the cause of their shoulder pain should pay their doctor of chiropractic a visit right away, to seek the root causes of their condition and how to properly rehabilitate it. Some signs that our treatment is needed may include:
- Shoulder pain that has been ongoing for a few days or more
- Loss of full range of motion of the arm or shoulder
- Recurring shoulder pain
- Shoulder pain that occurs during the night or even while at rest
- Inability or difficulty with raising the arm
- Bruising or swelling around the arm or joint
- Significant rounding of the shoulders or poor posture
- Back of Shoulder Pain
- Sprains and strains
- Radiating pain from the cervical (neck) region
- Shoulder bursitis
- Rotator cuff injury
- Arm Numbness
- Frozen shoulder
Pain at the back of the shoulder is one of the most common complaints we see outside of the spine at our clinic. The shoulder is one of the most mobile joints in the body, and therefore it is more vulnerable to injury and build-up of problems over time.
Muscle imbalances and tendonitis are two very common reasons our patients may be experiencing back of shoulder pain. Often these patients may have seen their GP and had an X-ray which was normal. However, we must look at multiple potential causes including the muscles of the shoulder, neck, upper back, etc. to sometimes properly diagnose and treating pain at back of the shoulder, or surrounding areas. You may read the section below on the common ways we help our patients with these types of problems.
Frozen shoulder can be an exceptionally painful condition and it may require a combination of treatment options to fully address the problem. More and more people are seeking proper chiropractic care as a key component of their frozen shoulder rehabilitation.
For people with frozen shoulder, even typical activities like brushing your hair or putting on a shirt can become an ordeal. Other cases can also result in sleep disturbance and insomnia. Without proper chiropractic care and intervention, frozen shoulder pain can last for many months, or even years in some cases.
Often cases of frozen shoulder (as well as most shoulder pain in general) will exhibit poor joint mechanics and nerve irritation in the upper back (thoracic spine) or the lower neck (cervical spine). When shoulder pain is linked to the spine and nerves, chiropractic care can be very effective.
Thankfully, our well-trained chiropractors at Elite Spine are highly versed in a range of interventions for effective shoulder pain relief and treatment.
Rotator cuff injuries
Your rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder. A rotator cuff injury can typically be recognised by a dull ache in the shoulder and is a common condition among labour workers who perform frequent overhead motions. Rotator cuff injuries can surface in a few ways, one as a rotator cuff impingement or in a rotator cuff tear. Both of which could arise from injury or result from general wear and tear from day-to-day activities. Rotator cuff tendonitis also results in pain and swelling as a result of irritated or damaged rotator cuff tendons.
Mild symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include minor pain during activity and at rest, sudden pain when lifting or reaching for things as well as pain when performing an overhead motion. Without physical examination and treatment to relieve pain, the symptoms may get progressively worse. Pain at night, as well as the loss of strength and motion, are not uncommon symptoms of a rotator cuff injury.
Seeking physical therapy or chiropractic can help to strengthen the muscles in the back of the shoulder and around the shoulder blade to optimise shoulder muscle balance.
Tendonitis refers to the inflammation or irritation of a tendon in your shoulder. This condition may range from mild inflammation to severe inflammation of your rotator cuff, with symptoms such as pain and tenderness in your shoulder and the inability to hold your arm in certain positions.
If left untreated, shoulder tendonitis may result in further complications such as pain that interrupts sleep, loss of strength in the affected arm and difficulty performing daily activities that require overhead motions.
Treatment of shoulder pain will depend primarily on the cause(s) of the problem. That being said, it is important that your chiropractor will assess and evaluate the problem accurately first, before any treatment can commence.
Whatever kind of shoulder pain you may be experiencing, our chiropractors will take the time necessary to explain to you about the cause of your concerns and create a treatment strategy based around your specific needs. As mentioned earlier, shoulder pain is often attributed to an irritation of the tendons, muscles, nerves, ligaments, or the capsule area.
In some cases, the problem may be in the joints or tissues of the cervical spine, which may or may not cause inflammation around the nerve roots. Those areas are examined carefully to ensure the diagnosis is accurate and complete.
Commonly, the small muscles of the rotator cuff may be damaged, inflamed, or imbalanced. Additionally, other muscles which may often be involved with shoulder pains are the subscapularis located on the inside of the shoulder blade, or even the triceps of the upper arm.
As soon as an accurate diagnosis has been made, treatment for the shoulder pain can begin. While significant relief may be experienced after the first session, a short series of chiropractic adjustments and other therapies may be needed to ensure the shoulder pain and underlying problems are resolved completely.
Patients who take the time to not only fix their pain, but to fully resolve the underlying problems in the spine, joints, nerves, muscles and surrounding tissues will have the greatest chance of long term recovery and relief.
Author: Dr. Michael Bryant