Anatomical structures of the shoulder are highly complex and interconnected. This means that a shoulder injury rarely causes pain in just one area. Instead, it often affects multiple muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and cartilage.
Shoulder pain and injuries can be caused by a variety of things, but no matter the cause, everyone wants the same result – the pain to go away. If you have been experiencing shoulder pain or discomfort for more than a couple weeks without improvement then chances are it won’t just get better on its own. For shoulder pain causes, early diagnosis is critical to recovery.
Together, we will create a personalized treatment plan catered to YOUR body, YOUR pain points and YOUR speed. What is right for one won’t be right for another. We specialize in the following three methods to create a customized treatment plan.
Chiropractic treatment is another great option within the conservative care realm to help with shoulder pain and other chronic shoulder issues. The gentle adjustments that your practitioner may apply help to realign the spine and extremities for better overall function during the healing process. This can help to loosen up the body as a whole, as well as decrease inflammation. Depending on your specific case and the severity of your shoulder injury, some additional manual therapy may also be applied to encourage healing. Your chiropractor can also help prescribe the best at-home exercises to quicken your recovery time outside of the office and guide you through the phases of recovery accordingly.
Chiropractic massage therapy helps loosen tendons and ligaments that can make the shoulder joint painful and stiff. Massage can reduce overall muscle soreness by improving circulation throughout the body, treating muscle spasms, reducing inflammation, and promoting healing. This also helps increase range of motion and flexibility and preps the body for chiropractic adjustment allowing the doctor to more easily manipulate the joints.
Regenerative medicine is a relatively new branch of biological medicine that is focused on helping the body use its own ability to repair itself by regenerating healthy tissue in order to restore function. One of the main types of biological therapy that is growing in popularity for shoulder pain and many other conditions is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). PRP involves inserting a person’s own blood plasma into damaged tissue. It is packed full of growth factors and platelets which help regenerate cartilage, fiber, and collagen cells. Prolotherapy is another type of biological therapy that is also non-surgical. With this therapy, Dextrose and anesthetic is injected into damaged areas in order to stimulate the body to initiate its own healing to an area that isn’t healing on its own.
The shoulder has a very diverse range of motion, and when something goes wrong and hampers your ability to move it freely, the result can be a lot of pain and discomfort.
You can experience pain in your shoulder even when your shoulder is fine. For example, a pinched nerve in your neck can sometimes send pain signals to your shoulder.
Shoulders can move out of alignment and lead to inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. Gentle chiropractic adjustments can be done to restore normal alignment and relieve pain and inflammation.
Chiropractors often combine massage therapy, manipulation, corrective exercises, heat and ice therapy, and other soft tissue therapies for successful treatment and relief of soft tissue pain.
Shoulder impingement occurs when one or more of the tendons of the rotator cuff get pinched and trapped between shoulder bones during movement causing inflammation and pain of the rotator cuff. It is common in people that participate in activities that require repeated overhead movements.
Symptoms of the condition include weakness of the shoulders, shoulder joint pain that gets worse with sleep or overhead movement, difficulty reaching behind the back or raising the arms, and a pinching feeling when moving the shoulder.
Any injury, such as a fall, can cause the shoulder to swell and result in the condition. Other causes of shoulder impingement syndrome include bone growth abnormalities in the joint, osteoarthritis, and overuse of the shoulder. It is particularly common in swimmers who are using form, so much so that Shoulder Impingement Syndrome has been nicknamed Swimmer’s Shoulder.
As with most other conditions, conservative treatment measures should be tried first. These include stretching exercises, activity modifications, rest, cold/heat therapy, and activity modifications. In your journey back to full health, chiropractic care is a safe and natural treatment regime for addressing a shoulder impingement injury. Chiropractic care utilizes gentle adjustments of the spine and extremities to realign your body. These gentle adjustments help to decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow your entire body to relax and allow healing to take place. Because shoulder impingement flares up with inflammation, modalities that can decrease overall inflammation (like chiropractic adjustments) can assist your body as it works toward complete healing.
The range of motion and your arm/shoulder strength will be assessed. You will also be asked what kind of repetitive activities you are involved in, what type of things you have tried to relieve your pain, previous injuries, when your current pain started, and what you think may have caused your current pain. X-rays may be used to rule out arthritis and bone spurs. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound may be used to show tears in the rotator cuff tendons or inflammation in the bursa.
Although many doctors treat shoulder impingement with pain management and injections, chiropractic adjustments have actually been shown to be more effective. A chiropractor will adjust your spine and make sure there are no additional or underlying conditions that could be causing or exacerbating your shoulder pain. Next, your chiropractor will use different techniques to relax the muscles, reduce inflammation, and adjust any necessary alignments to your shoulder to reduce pain and improve mobility.
Most cases heal within three to six months, but severe cases may take up to a year or more to heal. However, most people can return to normal activities within two to four weeks, just be sure to seek the advice of your doctor and make sure you are not overdoing it.
Symptoms of the condition vary based on whether nerves or blood vessels are being compressed. They may include tingling or numbness of the arms or fingers, weakness of the arms, pain in the arms, hands or shoulders, discoloration of the hands, weak pulse in the arm, cold fingers or hands, swelling of the arm, and blood clots of the upper body.
Most causes of thoracic outlet syndrome are due to movement of the surrounding muscle or bone in a manner that puts pressure on the nerves or blood vessels. This may include anatomical defects, poor posture, pregnancy, and trauma through repetitive motion, as is the case with many athletes.
Most cases of thoracic outlet syndrome respond very well to conservative care. Working with a medical professional on a personalized plan, physical therapy and rehabilitative exercises are the best course of treatment. A good plan will utilize exercises meant to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the shoulder. The intent is to improve your range of motion, open up the thoracic outlet area, and eventually remove pressure off of the compressed nerves, veins, or arteries.
Combined with rehabilitation exercises, chiropractic adjustments of the spine can be used in treating TOS by helping to alleviate some of the pressure and compression caused by thoracic outlet syndrome itself. These adjustments of the spine and extremities help to realign common misalignments that happen as a result of everyday life as well, which could also be impacting the severity of your thoracic outlet syndrome.
Thoracic outlet syndrome can cause pain in the neck and shoulder. If left untreated, it can result in additional, intense pain and decreased function. Certain forms of the condition can result in serious blood clots.
For most people with TOS, surgery isn’t necessary. Changes in lifestyle, physical therapy, and chiropractic treatments will be enough to improve the symptoms. If symptoms are too severe and not relieved by more conservative, less invasive methods, your doctor may decide that surgery is a better option.
For people that have mild TOS, lifestyle changes may be enough to make symptoms go away, but more serious TOS should receive treatment by a doctor right away. Waiting to get treatment can result in serious complications such as weakness, disability, and blood clots.
Thoracic outlet syndrome is a set of disorders characterized by the compression of the brachial plexus. The thoracic outlet is where a bundle of nerves (the brachial plexus), blood vessels, and muscles reside. It is a small area between your collarbone and first rib, and when the area becomes irritated, thoracic outlet syndrome can occur.
There are two types of thoracic outlet syndrome:
Neurological TOS – This is by far the most common type of thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) and has to do with nerve compression. What’s happening inside your body: the brachial plexus is a set of nerves that have control over small things like the feeling and movements within your shoulder, arm, and hand. The brachial plexus also happens to run from your spinal cord through your thoracic outlet, and when it becomes compressed, you’re likely to start feeling a tingling sensation through your arm and down through your fingers, along with pain in your shoulder or neck. You may also notice a weakened grip as a result of this type of TOS.
Vascular TOS – Vascular thoracic outlet syndrome has some of the same symptoms of neurological TOS, but certainly a different root cause. Vascular TOS occurs when a vein or artery under the collarbone becomes compressed and though tingling and numbness in the arm and hand can also characterize this variation, you may also notice some swelling in your arm, cold fingers, weakness in your arm, and even a bluish hue to your hand.
The bursa are small fluid-filled sacs that cushion where bone would otherwise rub on muscle, skin, or tendons. By padding these areas, friction, rubbing, and inflammation is reduced. Although they are located throughout the body, bursitis occurs most often around the joints. Bursitis is when the bursa become inflamed and painful. This can be due to excess pressure or overuse and can be sudden or build up over time.
Although symptoms of bursitis of the shoulder may vary, they include pain that is often worse during movement, limited range of motion, and swelling. Some types of bursitis may also cause redness, heat, and fever in the area of the affected bursa.
Repetitive motions, such as a baseball pitcher throwing the ball over and over, are the most common cause of bursitis. Bursitis can also come on suddenly as a result of trauma or an injury. A more serious form of bursitis, infected bursitis, is less common, but is the result of infection in the bursa often due to a puncture or insect bite.
Rest and ice therapy are the primary treatments for bursitis in the shoulder. Your doctor may also recommend antibiotics if you have infected bursitis. Another natural way to stay on top of your shoulder health is with consistent chiropractic care. Your chiropractor can help to properly diagnose your shoulder bursitis, the level of severity, and put together a customized treatment plan specific to your condition.
Gentle adjustments of the spine, neck, and extremities help to decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow your entire body to relax and allow actual healing to take place.
Bursitis can usually be treated at home with rest, but if the symptoms don’t go away with time, your doctor may focus on making sure you don’t lose any range of motion or suffer permanent damage in the joint. Some people develop chronic bursitis which can result in permanent disability.
Bursitis will often get better on its own with a few conservative measures such as rest, ice, and chiropractic treatment. If symptoms do not improve with these measures, the condition can worsen and result in rotator cuff or shoulder impingement problems.
The conditions are similar and definitely sound the same. However, they are different because of the joint structures involved and the source of the pain. Bursitis is caused by inflammation of just the bursa, while arthritis may be caused by a variety of different things. Bursitis is typically temporary, and arthritis can’t be cured and usually gets progressively worse over time.
The hallmark symptom of frozen shoulder is exactly what the name implies – frozen shoulder – or inability to move the shoulder. Symptoms often develop slowly over a several month period and pain increases, then decreases, as the condition progresses.
It isn’t known exactly what causes a shoulder to freeze in the first place, but there have been studies about who is most likely to be affected. It occurs most often in women ages 40 to 60. It is also more prevalent in people with diabetes, those with thyroid disorders, cardiovascular disease, and Parkinson’s disease. People recovering from shoulder injuries are also at higher risk.
Stretching and physical therapy can help manage the symptoms of frozen shoulder, regardless of the stage the individual is in. Through the use of adjustments of the spine, neck, and extremities, chiropractic can help to realign the body and provide relief that can be so desperately needed in the throes of this injury.
These gentle adjustments help to decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow your entire body to relax and for healing to take place. Additionally, chiropractic adjustments can also help with joint mobility, which is a huge factor in caring for your shoulder through Frozen Shoulder rehabilitation.
The shoulder ligaments (or bands of muscle that hold the shoulder in place) become stiff and inflexible, decreasing range of motion, or freezing, the shoulder.
Medical experts often call frozen shoulder a “self-limiting” condition, meaning it will likely go away on its own. However, people may not get their full range of motion back. They may notice that their shoulder pops up a little higher than the other when they raise their arms, but most people are simply glad to have “almost normal” shoulder movement.
Shoulder stiffness is often related to problems between the humerus and scapula. Frozen shoulder is when the normally supple capsule around the joint becomes stiff. Shoulder stiffness may also result when the normal gliding surfaces of the shoulder are scarred due to injury or surgery. This is known as post traumatic stiff shoulder.
Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that starts out mild and gets progressively worse if not treated early on. Unfortunately, it is less common than other conditions such as arthritis, impingement, and rotator cuff injuries, and often goes unidentified as the source of pain until symptoms become more severe.
Frozen shoulder occurs stages:
Pre-Freezing Stage (Months 1-3) – The shoulder will ache when not being used and develop sharper pains with movement. The affected joint may have a mild reduction in the ability to raise or rotate the arm or reach behind the back.
Freezing Stage (Months 3-9) – Individuals will experience a progressive loss of shoulder movement as scar tissue forms and the bursa become inflamed. Pain will increase.
Frozen Stage (Months 9-14) – In this stage individuals will experience a severely limited range of motion. Stiffness will make common tasks like putting away groceries and cleaning difficult. Severe pain also becomes more consistent but may decrease or go away toward the end of this Stage.
Thawing Stage (Months 15-24) – Shoulder range of motion and strength gradually return to normal.
Classic symptoms of tendonitis include a toothache-like pain that radiates from the outer arm to several inches below the top of the shoulder. It may occur in front of and on top of the shoulder. It may interfere with sleeping and is typically aggravated by raising the arms overhead or by reaching behind the body. Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include pain that radiates from the upper shoulder to the elbow, difficulty moving the shoulder, weakness in the shoulder, pain that becomes worse after laying on the affected shoulder, and pain when raising the arm overhead.
A rotator cuff tear is often the more extreme version of rotator cuff tendonitis, or inflammation. A tear in the rotator cuff can occur over time and with heavy repetitive use, sometimes from work-related activities. For example, many painters and carpenters have trouble with their rotator cuffs because of the physical nature of their workday in and day out. However, a rotator cuff tear can also occur during an accident, such as a sudden fall or while playing an impact sport. We also become more susceptible to this injury as we age; these tears are most common in people over the age of 40.
Rotator cuff tendonitis, as well as some tears, may heal with conservative measures such as ice, physical therapy, and activity modifications. For more extensive tears, surgery may be recommended.
Chiropractic treatment may also be helpful for rotator cuff issues. By gently working on and around your shoulder joint, it helps to decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow your entire body to relax and for healing to take place. Additionally, physical therapy, chiropractic and massage treatment also help with joint mobility, which is a huge factor in caring for your shoulder through rotator cuff tear rehab.
A rotator cuff tear can get larger over time. This may occur with reinjury or repetitive use. That is why it is important to give your tear the necessary time needed to heal based on your doctor’s recommendations. If you know you have a rotator cuff tear and the pain gets worse and you experience a decrease of strength, it could mean the tear is getting larger.
Many times, both tendonitis and tears in the rotator cuff can be treated through conservative methods such as physical therapy, lifestyle modification, and chiropractic care. If a tear is extensive, it is likely it will not heal on its own and surgery will be recommended.
Rotator cuff tendonitis typically occurs over time after repeated stress on the rotator cuff. If left untreated and normal activities are not modified, rotator cuff tendonitis can worsen and lead to a partially or completely torn rotator cuff tendon.
Because the symptoms of achiness and tingling in and around the shoulder can also mimic other injuries, like a bulging disc, it’s especially important to get a correct diagnosis from a professional, like a chiropractor, to ensure you’re getting the right treatment.
In addition to chiropractic adjustments, your practitioner can also provide guidance on proper rehabilitation exercises to perform at home. These personalized exercises will help you continue to address the root of your problem outside of a practitioner’s office and help to speed your recovery process.