Shoulder Pain

shoulder pain condition

There are many causes of shoulder pain, and your sports chiropractor is trained to determine the exact cause of your problem so that they can diagnose your shoulder pain and formulate a treatment plan that’s unique to your shoulder injury.  Explained below are some of the most common causes of shoulder pain.  It’s important to remember that there are three “joints” of the shoulder, and that two people could be pointing to vastly different areas of their body when asked to point to the location of their shoulder pain!

Photo: wiki cc (supraglenoid tubercle)

Shoulder anatomy

Glenohumeral joint: the ball and socket joint where the top of the arm bone (humerus) makes contact with the acetabulum of the scapula (the socket).

Scapulothoracic joint: a broad term for the flat area where the shoulderblade meets the torso (there are many connections between the ribs, scapula, muscles, and fascia in this area).

Acromioclavicular joint: the little dip you feel at the top/front of your shoulder, right off the lateral end of your collarbone.  This is the connection between the collarbone (clavicle) and the shoulder blade (scapula).

shoulder pain condition      Photo: wiki cc from Gray’s Anatomy

Causes of shoulder pain

Muscle adhesions: Any of the muscles that cross the joints of the shoulder (or connect via fascial connections) to other muscles that do cross the joints) can become overworked and develop adhesions.  This can be any of the muscles of the rotator cuff (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis), trapezius, rhomboids, pec major, pec minor, biceps, lats, and many others.

Capsule adhesions: Deep within the ball and socket joint of the shoulder is a layer of tissue that holds the head of the humerus in place, and this is called the shoulder capsule.  Just like muscles in the area, the shoulder capsule may also develop adhesions due to overuse.

Shoulder dislocation: The humerus slides anterior and inferior in relation to the scapula, causing severe pain.  This is usually due to a trauma such as a fall or a collision.

Shoulder subluxation: This term technically means “less than a dislocation”.  It’s a small mis-alignment or fixation that can occur with either a fall or through chronic poor posture or repetitive activities.

Bursitis: There are several fluid-filled protective sacs in the shoulder area that serve as pillows to cushion the shoulder.  With repetitive motion or trauma, any one of these bursa may become inflammed or injured.

Shoulder impingement: The space between the shoulder and the arm basically gets smaller.  This can happen due to chronic posture habits, repetitive strain, or injury.

Rotator cuff tear: An injury to any of the rotator cuff muscles mentioned previously that causes a tear to the muscle fibers.

A/C ligament tear: An injury to the acromio-clavicular ligament that connects your collarbone to your shoulderblade.  Often known as a shoulder separation.  This may be caused by a fall on an outstretched arm.

Treatment of shoulder pain

Shoulder pain condition treated by Oakand sports chiropractor Dr. Sandy Baird
Oakland chiropractor treats shoulder pain with Active Release Techniques

In order to formulate a treatment plan, your chiropractor must first diagnose your pain correctly.

For each cause of shoulder pain, there is a unique treatment approach.  For the most common causes of adhesion in the shoulder muscles and/or shoulder capsule, Active Release Techniques is the most frequently prescribed treatment because it actually reduces the adhesions and allows the shoulder’s biomechanics to function properly.

Active Release Techniques is a hands-on soft tissue treatment system, which involves shortening a muscle, the practitioner taking a thumb or hand contact on the adhesion, and then lengthening the muscle to break down the adhesion.  This is a 100% natural treatment approach, which allows you to spare the stress and cost associated with drugs and surgery.

Shoulder pain treated by oakland chiropractor Dr. Sandy Baird
Oakland chiropractor applies Kinesiotaping to treat shoulder pain

Shoulder subluxation is also frequently treated in a chiropractor’s office.  Specific extremity adjusting protocols are used in order to get the shoulder to seat in the right position, and to restore it’s necessary motion and function.  Supporting treatments including Kinesiotaping and rehabilitation exercises may also be prescribed in the treatment of shoulder pain.