While other joints are limited in their motion and therefore more stable, the shoulder is a freely moving joint, leaving it vulnerable to injury. There are many different soft tissues in the shoulder including ligaments, tendons and muscles. All of which can be injured by improper movement, trauma or overuse. These structures work together to create the coordination and strength required for proper pain free function of the shoulder. The shoulder is also a place where pain can be referred – from the neck, the heart and the gallbladder for example. We are experienced at determining the cause of shoulder pain. Our training enables us to make a diagnosis using the information we gather in the medical history, examination and from imaging if it is necessary (x-ray, MRI, ultrasound).
If the pain is due to a medical illness we will refer the patient to a medical doctor with an accompanying letter or phone call explaining what we have found. More often than not the cause of the pain is something we can treat however, and below is a list of common problems that benefit from chiropractic treatment. For all of them we use a combination of chiropractic adjustments, muscle stretching and relaxing techniques to reduce pain, improve the range of motion and coordination. We also prescribe home exercises and stretches and give postural advice to improve stability and speed the healing process.
Referred Pain from the neck and thoracic spine
Problems in the neck and upper back can put pressure on or ‘pinch’ the nerves that control the shoulder. This is a common cause of pain and muscle tension in the shoulder. Chiropractic treatment by improving the function of the spine in these areas can remove the pressure on the nerves so allowing the pain and muscle spasm to subside.
Rotator Cuff Strain or Tendonitis
The Rotator cuff muscles are responsible for keeping the shoulder in it’s socket and correctly coordinating it’s movement as the arm is raised. These muscles are vulnerable to injury when a sudden strain is put on the shoulder. They are commonly injured by athletes whose sports involve repeated sudden over arm movements like bowlers in cricket or tennis players. When they are injured these muscles can cause weakness and pain radiating from the shoulder down the front of the arm as the shoulder is moved and rotated.
The biceps muscle flexes your arm at the elbow and lifts the arm, one of it’s tendons runs through a groove and attaches to the shoulder. This tendon can commonly become inflamed through injury or repetitive strain.
This is also a common disorder of the shoulder, where scar tissue forms around the shoulder. The cause of adhesive capsulitis is unknown but it is often preceded by a period of shoulder immobility –like placing the arm in a sling. It usually starts with a period of severe pain in the shoulder, the pain then often subsides a little as the shoulder becomes extremely stiff. The course of the condition is usually about 18 months if left untreated. Chiropractic treatment can significantly shorten this.
Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
This gives pain particularly with overhead activities. It is due to incorrect positioning of the shoulder and poor coordination causing trapping and irritation of the soft tissues of the shoulder as the arm moves.