Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain has many common causes including osteoarthritis, overuse, auto accident trauma and sports injuries. Chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy are natural ways to relieve shoulder pain by stabilizing and strengthening the shoulder joint without surgery or medication.

If someone is experiencing pain in their shoulder, why should they visit a chiropractor?

Dr. Luke Stringer: A chiropractor is obviously trained, and essentially specializes in not only the treatment of the spine and the nervous system, but all the joints within the body, including the extremity joints, such as the shoulder. Shoulder pain can be from a variety of causes, such as a sports injury, but also it can be essentially from issues such as poor posture or issues within the joints and nerves within our neck.

What a chiropractor can do, is separate themselves from other physicians, is to be able to evaluate the cause of the pain, and address it through many forms of treatment, obviously depending on what is needed. They can do all sorts of treatment, ranging from adjustments, to physical therapy, to soft tissue work, to restructuring of the spine, and the beauty of this, we can do it all without the use of drugs and surgery.

Can shoulder pain be a symptom of an issue somewhere else in the body that needs to be corrected?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. If the pain follows a trauma such as a motor vehicle accident or a sports injury, and obviously that’s the root cause of the issue and should be addressed as such. However, many shoulder problems, particularly what we treat in our office here, is a compensatory issue. And it’s usually a compensation from a joint or the spine being out of alignment. And what it does is it puts the shoulder in a state of stress, that stress into the joint limits our range of motion, the soft tissue starts to compensate, and over time this damages both the soft tissue and the joint, and breaks it down. And that’s going to create poor range of motion, weakness, inflexibility, and obviously give you shoulder pain.
So classically, or when you’re treating the shoulder pain, you certainly have to address there is a problem below that joint, and you certainly have to look at the spine.

What type of shoulder pain is caused by arthritis? What type of treatment is available to relieve that pain?

Dr. Luke Stringer: It all depends on the type of arthritis, right? However, the more common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Essentially, it’s degeneration within the joint. And essentially, when the joint degenerates over time, it can be done with wear and tear over aging, or it can be accelerated through a number of factors, but usually through overuse, and essentially poor range of motion.

So, the classic symptoms you get with osteoarthritis are a dull, achy pain, especially in the morning. It tends to improve throughout the day, as the joint moves better. And there are a wide degree of treatments available, however they should all be simply, essentially the same thing, which is improving the range of motion within the joint, decreasing inflammation within the joint and the soft tissue, and obviously improving the health of the joint and the soft tissue, and stabilizing it.

You can achieve that through adjustments within the joint, breaking down the scar tissue by soft tissue therapy, and obviously stabilizing and strengthening through various methods of physical therapy.

What is the process like for treating someone with shoulder pain resulting from an auto accident?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Every case will obviously depend on the velocity impact of the trauma, and how that has damaged the shoulder, but to generalize, treatment protocol should be as follows. We should be aiming to decrease inflammation within the joint as quickly as possible. A great way to do that’s using electrical stimulation and ice within the joint, and/or something that we use in our office called K-Laser. Next phase of care should be to improve range of motion. And we can do this via adjustments, traction, and certainly soft tissue therapy. And the last phase of it should be to stabilize and strengthen the joint. And again, that’s going to come through physical therapy exercises.

How do you identify and treat shoulder pain resulting from repetitive motion or a sports injury?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Yeah, great question. Checking the range of motion within the joint via mobility exams is really important to establish the restriction in the joint, and which tissue within the joint could be causing that restriction. We always like to follow that up with some orthopedic tests to evaluate the integrity of the joint, the nerve, the tissue, until we can pinpoint the structure that’s essentially causing the pain. And by doing it, we simply ask for a pinpoint diagnosis, and then from that, we also have to evaluate the spine. Especially the cervical spine. I mean you have to do it via both an exam and through some digital x-rays.

Because what it does is, it checks the structural alignment within the spine, because when we have poor structure or posture, particularly within the cervical spine, it’s creates a compensatory issue within the shoulder. And then treatment is going to vary case by case, but again, it’s going to be to improve mobility, and obviously to increase stabilization and strength within the joint. We’re going to be doing that through adjustments, traction, soft tissue therapy, and some physical therapy.

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