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Shoulder Pain Relief

man grabs shoulder in painWhether you’re tackling daily chores like laundry and keeping up with active grandkids, or engaging in competitive sport, your shoulders play a pivotal role.* But how can you ensure they receive the care they deserve?

The shoulder’s attachment to the skeletal framework occurs through the clavicle, commonly known as the collar bone. An injury to this connection results in what’s referred to as a “separated shoulder.” The primary shoulder joint is where the humerus, or arm bone, sits in the glenoid fossa, a hollow socket within the scapula bone – almost like a golf ball (head of the humerus) sitting on a golf tee (glenoid fossa). This meeting point is fortified by the labrum, a cartilage rim that creates some stability. Four crucial muscles form a muscular “cuff” that controls movement and stabilizes the joint. These muscles – the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis – collectively allow and control a full range of shoulder motion.

The remarkable mobility of the shoulder comes at a cost: limited stability. Hips rarely dislocate. Shoulders often do.

Throwing athletes often get shoulder pain; but the damage isn’t primarily from the force of throwing. The real strain is experienced by the muscles responsible for decelerating (slowing) the arm after releasing an object (ball, javelin, etc.). Without the vigilant engagement of the rotator cuff muscles, a forceful throw would literally throw the arm out of its socket. Repetitive strain on the rotator cuff muscles can easily lead to tendonitis.

Even if you’re not aiming to be a professional quarterback or pitcher, shoulder injuries can stem from seemingly mundane activities. Inadequate movement and under-use can give rise to “frozen shoulder,” characterized by painful tightness and restriction. In severe cases, surgical intervention might be necessary to regain mobility. Such issues often emerge after periods of inactivity, such as post-stroke recovery, prolonged sling usage, or various injuries that necessitate motion restriction – potentially leading to lasting tightness. Sometimes frozen shoulder comes seemingly out of nowhere; though often, we find over-use or under-use (desk jobs) are part of the history.

Mechanical factors can also contribute to shoulder woes. The cartilaginous glenoid encircling the shoulder capsule can tear, particularly following one or more dislocations. This scenario frequently requires surgical repair. Additionally, “impingement” can arise when bone spurs, tracking errors, muscle imbalances, or anatomical peculiarities lead to cramped spaces for the rotator cuff tendons. Inflamed fluid-filled sacs known as bursae can further exacerbate problems, causing bursitis.

The spine’s role in shoulder issues shouldn’t be overlooked. Nerves stemming from the cervical and thoracic spine control and coordinate the shoulder’s muscle actions, including the rotator cuff. A study published in the British Medical Journal highlighted the efficacy of spinal manipulation in managing common shoulder complaints, surpassing the results obtained from physical therapy alone. The study also emphasized the significance of accurate diagnosis and a comprehensive understanding of human anatomy by medical practitioners.

Dr. Daniel Shaye
is well-versed in diagnosing, treating, and preventing various common human ailments, including those afflicting the shoulder. Following diagnosis, Dr. Shaye can address the root causes of shoulder issues or refer patients for supplementary care. The chiropractic toolkit offers a range of conservative, secure, and effective methods. Acupuncture, dry needling, functional taping, and progressive rehabilitation are valuable tools in our doctor bag; however, the hallmark of chiropractic care remains joint manipulation of both the spine, and extremities including the shoulder. This can significantly alleviate pain, enhance movement, and re-establish functional patterns. Even frozen shoulders can and often do respond without the need for surgery; and athletes from amateur to professional value chiropractic care. Through adjustments and soft tissue treatment, we can facilitate shoulder recovery and possibly even enhance overall well-being in ways that might surprise and delight you – as we have, for so many others.

Jan C Winters, Jan S Sobel, Klaas H Groenier, Hans J Arendzen, Betty Meyboom-de Jong. Comparison of physiotherapy, manipulation, and corticosteroid injection for treating shoulder complaints in general practice: randomized, single-blind study. BMJ 1997;314:1320 (3 May).

* Yes, we love bad puns! That one was unintentional.

Shoulder Pain Relief Williamsburg, James City County VA | Performance Chiropractic