The shoulder joint is a complex structure that we rely on (and abuse) on a daily basis. The shoulder joint consists of the upper arm bone (Humerus), shoulder blade (scapula), and collarbone (clavicle). These 3 bones form a triangle with the Humerus at one end, attached to the cup-shaped socket in the scapula. The shoulder is held in place by the “rotator cuff”. This a group of four muscles and their tendonous attachments. The muscles are the Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Major, and Subscapularis. These muscles and their specific placement allow for the wide range of motion that the shoulder has.
Shoulder pain can result from many things. Reasons for shoulder pain can include falls, overuse injuries, or even problems radiating from the neck.
Four Common Types of Shoulder Joint Injuries
Most shoulder problems fall into one of four major categories:
- Tendon Injury. Tendons are what connect muscle to bone. Overuse of the shoulder joint can lead to inflammation and swelling of the tendons in and around the shoulder joint. Rotator cuff injuries are the most common tendon injuries in the shoulder. The rotator cuff comprises four muscles, the Infraspinatus, Supraspinatus, Teres Major, and Subscapularis. These muscles originate at different spots on the shoulder blade areas (Scapula) and insert on upper arm regions (Humerus). The tendons of the rotator cuff can tear from an acute injury like a fall or sports injury. Degenerative changes due to advancing age or long-term overuse (wear and tear) can also result in a rotator cuff injury.
- Shoulder dislocation. Shoulder dislocations occur when the head of the Humerus comes out of the shoulder socket. This type of injury is almost always the result of a fall or sudden injury.
- Arthritis in the shoulder. There are different forms of arthritis. The primary two are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis in the shoulder causes tightening and stiffening of the joint. This inflammation results in painful and restricted motion.
- Fracture. Fractures are broken bones. Shoulder fractures most commonly involve the Clavicle (collarbone) and the Humerus. The scapula (shoulder blade) is the least often fractured bone in the shoulder.
The Most Common Cause of Shoulder Pain
While the four conditions listed above are widespread types of shoulder injuries, one of the most frequent causes of shoulder pain is not on that list.
The scapulae are two large triangular-shaped bones lying on the right and left sides of the upper back. The shoulder blades are surrounded and supported by a complex array of muscles that connect to the spine, base of the skull, and upper arm. These muscles work together to help you move your arm, especially overhead. Suppose an injury or condition causes the muscles around the scapula to become weak or imbalanced. In that case, it can result in shoulder pain.
If your shoulder pain is primarily worse when reaching or raising your arm above shoulder height. You may have a scapular motion problem, not a glenohumeral joint (shoulder) problem.
Scapular (Shoulder Blade) Disorders
Changes in shoulder blade positions can make it difficult to move your arm, especially when performing overhead activities. Scapular problems can also cause your shoulder to feel weak and even lead to injury.
Chiropractic treatment for scapular problems also includes strengthening shoulder muscles and restoring the scapular position and motion.
Why Do We Need Healthy Shoulders?
The shoulder joint gets enormous amounts of motion from everyday activities (activities of daily living (ADL). Activities like sports, heavy lifting, and long periods hunched over a computer all put the shoulder at risk for injury.
Shoulder strength and shoulder mobility are essential for almost every aspect of active adult life. From simple grooming habits (e.g., combing your hair and brushing your teeth) to simply getting ready for work, the shoulders help complete almost every task. Everyday risks like falls increase our odds of experiencing a shoulder, elbow, or wrist injury. The first thing to react to losing our balance is often to reach out for support. This action puts the wrist, elbow, and shoulder in the category of most injured joints resulting from a fall.
Add in activities of daily living (ADL) like showering, picking up the laundry off the floor, or helping the kids. You now have several things that can worsen your shoulder pain.
How to Fix Your Shoulder Pain
Chiropractic takes an efficient approach to treating joint pain and joint injuries. Chiropractors restore function to injured or damaged joints by working with the skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems. Chiropractors frequently treat patients with shoulder pain which means they have a great deal of experience diagnosing and treating these problems.
Taking good care of our shoulders also helps reduce neck and back pain. When shoulders fail to function correctly, other areas often compensate for them. These changes can lead to additional areas that may need care. Early, effective treatment of shoulder injuries helps reduce the risk of pain and arthritis developing later. Chiropractic adjustments help maintain proper joint function throughout the spine and extremities. Chiropractic care also helps reduce the need for extensive post-surgical therapy.
How Long Does It Take to Treat Shoulder Pain?
The length of treatment for shoulder pain depends on the cause of the shoulder problem. The extent of the shoulder damage or injury to the joint also affects how long your treatment will take.
Most chiropractic patients experience significant improvement within the first week or two of treatment. However, a lack of pain does not mean there’s no injury. A lack of pain doesn’t mean your shoulder injury has healed or treatment is no longer needed. If someone has a broken leg, they don’t remove the cast as soon as the pain stops.
Inflammation in an injured joint tends to decrease after 3 to 4 weeks. Complete healing of an injured ligament, tendon, or joint capsule can take 8 to 10 weeks. Soft tissue injuries not treated properly can become chronic injuries.
Common Types of Shoulder Pain
The complex structure of the shoulder girdle requires the gliding motion of the scapula on the rib cage, the “ball and socket” motion in the glenohumeral joint, and the hinge-like motion of the AC joint. This complexity creates many opportunities for injury.
Consider that shoulder injury can also include fractures of bone, sprains of ligaments or tendons, and muscular strains. All of these injuries require different types of treatment. Shoulder injuries can result from many kinds of activity or trauma. Direct trauma, dislocation, laceration, overuse, and repetitive motion activities are a few examples. The cause of your shoulder pain can affect the best way to treat it. Overuse and repetitive injuries are very common in our office because of the active patients we see from Arvada, Denver, and Wheatridge.
Benefits of Chiropractic for Shoulder Pain
People suffering from shoulder pain may not know that chiropractic can help relieve their pain. Because of the focus chiropractors put on proper joint function, chiropractors are ideal for treating shoulder injuries. Chiropractic adjustments are to be specific to the area treated as well as specific to the patient.
Imaging technologies (like x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs) and physical examination of the injured area are vital to diagnosing the cause of your shoulder pain. After determining the cause of your shoulder pain, your Chiropractor will devise a treatment plan to address your specific problem. Your treatment plan may include chiropractic adjustments, rehabilitative therapy, acupuncture, or laser therapy.
Chiropractic Adjustments Treat the Underlying Cause of Shoulder Pain
A shoulder does not need to be dislocated to cause pain. It can simply be misaligned (subluxated). These misalignments prevent proper shoulder motion. Pain is the body’s way of telling us something is wrong.
Chiropractic adjustments for shoulder pain can include gentle pressure on the shoulder joint or even work on the scapula (shoulder blade). The crucial role of chiropractic care is to remove obstacles for the body to heal itself. Chiropractic improves the communication of the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. When these systems work together, your body is operating at its best. When they don’t, that’s when pain and dysfunction occur. While pain is an indicator of dysfunction, a lack of pain doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.
As the pain in the shoulder begins to decrease, it’s essential to retrain and re-educate the shoulder muscles to work correctly. When the shoulders lose strength because of injury or overuse, restoring that strength relieves pain and improves function.
Chiropractic adjustments also address and correct posture that may affect the shoulder joint. It’s vital to understand how poor posture affects our bodies. Bad posture is a common cause of many problems that chiropractors treat daily. It is not uncommon for us to put our bodies into positions that can contribute to, or even create the aches and pains we deal with daily. Chiropractic care can relieve the effects of chronic poor posture and bad habits.
ADLs and Sleep Habits
Getting the most out of your care means communicating with your doctor. Some habits and activities may need to be changed while treating your shoulder injury. We can’t continue to do the things that created the shoulder problem in the first place. Be sure to be specific when describing your shoulder pain, what makes it better, and what makes it worse.
Sleeping positions affect our sleep quality and how we feel when we wake up. Changing your sleeping position may help relieve your shoulder pain and prevent it from reoccurring. Your Chiropractor can advise you on proper sleeping positions.
Chiropractic for Neck and Shoulder Pain
If you are experiencing shoulder pain, there is a strong chance that you have neck pain as well. The muscles and nerves in the neck, shoulder blades, and shoulder joints all overlap. This can cause any of these areas to cause pain in another.
Chiropractic adjustments restore proper function to the joints in the spine and shoulders. It can be difficult to determine if your pain is coming from the neck, shoulder joint, thoracic spine, or shoulder blade. Sometimes we don’t realize how much our daily activities impact our bodies.
It’s easy to develop repetitive habits at work, at home, or in the gym that results in neck and shoulder pain. Even poor posture can cause problems that result in neck and shoulder pain. Once we become aware of the bad habits that are causing our pain, it can take time and work to change them.
Whether your shoulder pain is from an injury, bad habits, or arthritis, pain relief is possible. Your treatment plan will include a comprehensive approach to increase ROM and decrease pain and inflammation.
Getting the Care Your Shoulders Need
Integrative Health and Rehabilitation providers are ready to help you address your shoulder pain. Your treatment may include chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, laser therapy, physical therapy, or a combination of these.
If your shoulder pain is new, the sooner you begin your treatment, the better. Treatment of a recent injury is always easier and more successful than treating a chronic injury. Chiropractic care for shoulder pain treats the cause of your pain.
Let Integrative Health and Rehab staff help you become pain-free and return to the activities you love. Contact us today by email at email@example.com, text: (833) 210-3525, or phone: (303) 424-7171. We are in-network providers for Aetna, CIGNA, Friday Health Plan, Humana, Medicare, and United Healthcare. We also have affordable cash prices for people without insurance.
While most people commonly think of chiropractic strictly for treating neck or back pain, it can improve the function of every joint in the body.
Chiropractors adjust and treat extremities, including knees, wrists, ankles, and shoulders. Shoulder pain is a widespread complaint in chiropractic offices. Almost half of the population will experience shoulder pain at some time.
Chiropractic care for shoulder pain
Chiropractic care can be a very beneficial treatment for a shoulder injury or shoulder pain patient. It can help to reduce or relieve pain, increase flexibility, improve the range of motion, and restore function to the joint. Different chiropractic techniques can be used, depending on the type of injury or condition.
The Chiropractor will assess the patient at the first visit, and the doctor will determine a treatment plan. As is often the case, pain in one part of the body can cause pain in other areas. Chiropractic care addresses all areas of the body to relieve pain without medication and gets the patient on the road to healing faster!
Choose Integrative Health and Rehabilitation
The shoulder goes through a great deal of movement in a day. In fact, the shoulder joint is not only one of the most freely mobile joints in the body but also one of the most unstable.
Regardless of what causes shoulder pain, it’s vital that you discover the activity or injury that causes your pain. Your Chiropractor will then determine what part of the shoulder isn’t functioning correctly and correct it.
When thinking about chiropractic care, most people think of back pain, neck pain, and headaches. Of course, this makes sense as research shows how well chiropractic treats these complaints.
In 2010 and 2014, the UK published a landmark study that reviewed research on various forms of treatment for MANY conditions. The conditions included musculoskeletal (shoulder pain) and non-musculoskeletal (asthma). The study found scientific evidence of the benefits of chiropractic treatment for shoulder pain. Shoulder girdle pain/dysfunction, rotator cuff pain, and adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) all improved with chiropractic.
Chiropractic treatment of patients with shoulder pain focuses on restoring shoulder ROM. Chiropractors treat three different joints of the shoulder. The glenohumeral, acromioclavicular (AC) joint, and the shoulder blade. Chiropractic care also includes exercises that restore motion, strength, and stability to the muscles and soft tissues surrounding the shoulder region.
Other types of therapy are also often used in chiropractic settings at various stages of healing following a shoulder injury. Chiropractic care aims to return patients to normal function.
But what about shoulder pain AFTER surgery?
If you’ve already had shoulder surgery, can chiropractic still help? A 2018 study found that post-surgical patients who received mid-back adjustments experienced increased shoulder movement and decreased pain.
Another study looked at changes in shoulder pain, disability, and perceived recovery after two sessions of upper thoracic and upper rib manipulation in patients with shoulder pain. Here too, participants reported significant improvement in all parameters tested that persisted for up to three months.
Given the solid research support of manual therapies directed at not only the shoulder but also the neck, upper, and mid-back spinal regions, chiropractic care for shoulder pain is simply a must!
If you are ready to get rid of your shoulder pain, schedule an appointment at Integrative Health and Rehabilitation today!