Question: Dear Dr. Harvey,
I have been having a great deal of shoulder pain lately. The pain seems to be getting worse, especially when I use it a lot. I don't remember doing anything to hurt it; however I am very active and play a lot of sports. Can chiropractic help my shoulder problem?
The shoulder is a very complex area of the body. It is here that the humerus (upper arm bone) articulates with the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder bone). The joint is considered a weak ball and socket joint. Other than the bones that make up the joints there are many ligaments, tendons and muscles from the chest, back and arm that all cross this area. Many people have heard of a "rotator cuff" injury. This is a collection of muscles that cross the joint. There is also a very complex nerve supply in this area.
With such a complex structure and considering the frequency that we use this area on a regular basis, it is easy to understand that occasionally things we do may result in an injury in this area.
Common injuries to the shoulder may involve weightlifting or almost any throwing motion, especially in baseball or football. Many contact sports may result in an injury to this area. We see a lot of injuries due to falls off bikes and skateboards.
The shoulder may also have pain from a neck injury such as a car accident. Here the nerves that exit the neck known as the brachial plexus may have been injured. These nerves that go to the shoulder may be the cause of the problem. This is usually true when the pain goes beyond the shoulder and down the arm. Any time you have a radiating pain down the arm or leg, it should be checked out immediately.
Problems of the shoulder may range from a mild ache to very severe injuries such as fractures or dislocation. Any pain or symptom that persists for any length of time should be checked out by a doctor. The medical approach to shoulder pain is usually to prescribe some sort of painkiller or anti-inflammatory. In more severe cases a cortisone injection may be given. This, however, is not recommended as cortisone has many side effects.
In our clinic a thorough case history and exam are done to determine the possible cause of the injury or problem. Then an x-ray of the shoulder and usually the spine is done. Once we have all this information, it is presented to the patient in a report of findings.
The treatment of the problem may involve adjusting the shoulder back into normal alignment. We usually also adjust the neck to relieve any pressure on the nerves that go to the shoulder. Exercise is usually discussed to show the patient how to strengthen the area.
In addition, there are a number of natural things such as vitamins and herbs that will help speed the healing process. In our clinic we also have acupuncture and massage therapy available. All of these things have been shown to be very effective in the treatment of shoulder conditions.
It is the philosophy of our clinic to do whatever is in the patient's best interest to help the patient, whether your condition is best treated with chiropractic, acupuncture, massage or some combination of the three. Wouldn't it be great if all health care practitioners worked together with the patient's best interest as their primary goal!
In conclusion, we have treated hundreds of shoulder problems with a very high success rate. If you would like us to help you, or someone you may know with this condition, please contact us. We're here to help.
©2009 Dr. Harvey