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How Chiropractic Care Can Help With Shoulder Pain

December 23, 2020

The shoulder consists of a complex group of bones, muscles, and connective tissue that come together to form a ball and socket joint that allows the arm to move in a circular motion. The three bones that are connected at the shoulder are the arm bones (humerus), shoulder blades (scapula), and the collarbone (clavicle). The shoulder is held in place by four muscles and tendons known as the rotator cuff. Pain in the shoulder can make it difficult to perform a wide range of everyday tasks, such as cooking, sports, and working.

Because of its complexity, pain in the shoulder can be caused by a variety of injuries and diseases. The most common cause of shoulder pain is damage to the rotator cuff.

Rotator cuff injuries

1) Impingement

This is when tendons in the rotator cuff rub against other tendons, muscles, or bone. Impingement can be very painful, especially when lifting the arm above the head.

2) Rotator cuff tear

This is when the tendon tears away from the bone or detaches fully. This leads to weakness in the shoulder.

3) Calcific tendinitis

This occurs when calcium deposits form within the rotator cuff tendons. It is felt as a sudden severe pain that usually starts in the morning.

4) Adhesive capsulitis

Also known as a frozen shoulder, this is when there is a thickening and stiffening of the tissues around the shoulder joint causing it to be unable to move.

Other causes of shoulder pain:

• Dislocation

• Separation

• Fracture

• Cartilage tear

• Bursitis - swelling and irritation of the fluid-filled sac that cushions the shoulder joint

• Biceps tendon rupture

• Referred pain from organs such as the liver or gallbladder

How to treat shoulder pain

The standard treatments for shoulder pain, depending on the cause include:

• Rest

• Shoulder exercises

• Sitting with a cushion supporting the lower back

• Surgery

• Pain relief, such as paracetemol and ibuprophen

• In some cases, surgery

Many of these treatments do not treat the underlying cause of shoulder pain, so it may not go away altogether.

Can chiropractic care help treat shoulder pain?

Chiropractic care can help to treat shoulder pain at its cause. The chiropractic clinician will usually approach shoulder pain using a multi-method approach, and studies have found that chiropractic care can fully treat shoulder pain, leaving patients pain and symptom-free one month later (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7595778_A_multi-modal_treatment_approach_for_the_shoulder_A_4_patient_case_series).

Treatments offered by chiropractic care clinicians for shoulder pain can include:

• Soft tissue therapy

• Electrotherapeutics

• Manipulation of the spine and arm joints

• Exercise

• Mobilisation

• Taping

(https://www.researchgate.net/publication/245931193_The_treatment_of_shoulder_pain_Current_trends_in_chiropractic_and_manual_therapy_management)

The cause of the shoulder pain will, of course, affect what type of treatment will be offered. So the first thing the chiropractic clinician will do is run a multitude of diagnostic tests to determine what is causing the shoulder pain.

Shoulder pain can be caused by a variety of different injuries and conditions. Standard treatments for shoulder pain can be non-specific, making it unlikely that the underlying cause will go away. Chiropractic care can provide treatment focused on the cause of the shoulder pain, eliminating it for good.

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