Shoulder pain is an extremely common complaint, and there are many common causes of this problem. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be directed at the cause. If you are unsure of the cause of your shoulder pain, or if you do not know the specific treatment recommendations for your condition, you should seek evaluation.
What are the causes of shoulder pain?
Here is a list of some of the most common causes for shoulder pain, for a more detailed explanation please click on the condition.
Referred pain from the neck and midback
When the structures in the neck and midback are painful, the pain is often felt over the shoulder. It is important to remember this. In some occasions shoulder pain can be a referred pain stemming from a nerve impingement in your neck. To rule out this problem, your chiropractor will always examine your neck and midback when you come in for shoulder pain.
Bursitis or Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
One of the most common causes in patients with shoulder pain is bursitis and tendinitis of the rotator cuff musculature causing impingement syndrome.
Rotator Cuff Tear
Different degrees of rotator cuff tears can occur. If the tendons of the rotator cuff don’t separate completely, often times it can heal. Various therapies can accelerate the healing process.
Also called ‘adhesive capsulitis’, this is a condition that leads to severely restricted movement of the shoulder. It is not as common as people think and is often misdiagnosed. This condition can be treated with various chiropractic, massage and exercise techniques.
Calcific tendinitis is a condition of calcium deposits within a tendon – most commonly within the rotator cuff tendons. Treatment of calcific tendinitis depends on the extent of symptoms.
Instability is a problem that causes a loose or unstable joint. Instability can be caused by a traumatic injury (dislocation), or may develop over time. This can occur with or without producing a secondary impingement syndrome.
A dislocation is a traumatic injury that occurs when the ball-part of the shoulder joint (top of the arm bone) slips out of the socket (part of the shoulder blade).
Also called an A/C separation, these injuries are the result of a disruption of the acromio-clavicular joint. This is a very different injury from a gleno-humeral dislocation.
There are several patterns of a torn labrum and the type of treatment depends on the specific injury.
Shoulder arthritis is less common than knee and hip arthritis, however, arthritic changes are more common in the acromio-clavicular joint between the collarbone and the shoulder blade.
Biceps Tendon Rupture
The upper part of the biceps tendon can rupture and cause shoulder pain.
Signs that you should seek treatment include:
- Shoulder pain that persists beyond a few days
- Recurring shoulder pain, even if it has a history of settling on its own
- Inability to carry objects or use the arm
- Injury that causes deformity of the joint
- Shoulder pain that occurs at night or while resting
- Inability to raise the arm
- Swelling or significant bruising around the joint or arm
- Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, warmth or swelling
Treatment of these conditions must be directed at the specific cause of your problem. Special chiropractic techniques may address each of the conditions in a different manner. In some cases it may involve gentle pressure and repositioning of the vertebrae to relieve nerve impingement which will improve mobility, and relieve pain and stiffness. In other cases your chiropractor may recommend other types of treatment for relieving your shoulder pain, such as moist heat, ice packs, massage/active release, traction, or stretching and strengthening exercises. Your chiropractor can discuss these with you.
During your visit to our office, the doctor of chiropractic will perform a detailed consultation and examination to locate the source of your pain. This will involve a series of questions about your current condition, followed by physical and neurological exams. In the physical exam, your doctor will observe your posture, range of motion, and physical condition, noting movement that causes pain. The doctor will feel your spine and shoulder, note its alignment, and feel for muscle spasm. During the neurological exam, the doctor may test your reflexes, muscle strength and sensory testing. If warranted, the Doctor may take x-rays and/or computerized muscle tests. Once all of the information is collected to develop a specific diagnosis, a report of findings will be delivered to you. The report of findings will discuss what is wrong, is it treatable and how long will it take to resolve. If you qualify for conservative chiropractic care, recommendations for the appropriate adjustments and therapies will be provided and treatment will begin that day.