General Health IssuesMost PopularPain LocationShoulder Pain

Should You See a Chiropractor For Shoulder Pain?

A chiropractor is a healthcare professional who focuses on diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal conditions, particularly those involving the spine. 

Chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments with the idea that proper alignment of the body’s musculoskeletal structure, particularly the spine, will enable the body to heal itself without surgery or medication. These professionals play a key role in helping patients manage and recover from painful conditions, including shoulder pain.

Regarding shoulder pain, it can be a source of constant discomfort, limit your mobility, and significantly impact your quality of life. The shoulder joint is one of the most complex joints in the body, and as such, it’s vulnerable to a variety of injuries and conditions. 

If you’re struggling with shoulder pain, a chiropractor can provide an alternative or complement to traditional treatments. They can offer a variety of non-invasive, drug-free options for managing your pain and improving your overall shoulder function. 

Depending on the root cause of your shoulder pain, a chiropractor can help address the issue by improving alignment, easing muscle tension, and promoting natural healing.

Cause of Shoulder Pain

There are several possible causes of shoulder pain, including:

  • Rotator Cuff Injuries: The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. They help stabilize the joint and enable the wide range of motion that the shoulder has. Rotator cuff injuries typically occur due to overuse or acute injury, leading to tears or inflammation of these muscles or tendons. This can cause pain and weakness in the shoulder and may limit the shoulder’s range of motion.
  • Bursitis: The shoulder joint contains small fluid-filled sacs known as bursae. They help to reduce friction between the bones in your shoulder during movements. When these bursae become inflamed, possibly due to overuse or injury, it results in a condition known as bursitis. This can cause pain, swelling, and discomfort in the shoulder.
  • Dislocation: A shoulder dislocation happens when the ball of your upper arm bone is forced out of its natural position in the shoulder socket. This could occur from a fall or sudden impact. It causes intense pain and instability in the shoulder.
  • Adhesive Capsulitis: Also known as frozen shoulder, adhesive capsulitis is characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint. The exact cause isn’t fully understood, but it often occurs after a period of immobility, like after surgery or an arm fracture.
  • Overuse of The Shoulder Joint: Repeatedly performing activities that involve lifting heavy weights or strenuous exercise can lead to wear and tear of the shoulder joint. This overuse can result in inflammation, pain, and reduced shoulder function.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis refers to an inflammation of one or more of your joints. In the shoulder, arthritis can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced mobility. It usually occurs due to age but can also be due to injury or disease.
  • Bone Spurs: Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are bony projections that develop along the edges of bones, often in joints. They can rub against nearby nerves and other tissues in the shoulder, causing pain and limiting movement.
  • Poor Shoulder Posture: Poor posture, especially while sitting for long periods, can strain the muscles around the shoulder and lead to imbalance. Over time, this can result in chronic shoulder pain and restricted movement.

Are Chiropractors Effective At Treating Shoulder Pain?

Various studies have shown chiropractic care to be effective at treating shoulder pain. For example, a 2012 study on frozen shoulders found that chiropractic care completely resolved or at least 75% resolved the condition in 82% of cases. 

Similarly, a 2011 review demonstrated that manual and manipulative therapy is a proven treatment for a variety of conditions affecting the shoulder.

Chiropractic care has also been proven effective for frozen shoulder syndrome. Patients experienced significant improvements in their symptoms after undergoing a novel chiropractic approach.

How Do Chiropractors Treat Shoulder Pain?

Chiropractors use a variety of techniques to help alleviate shoulder pain and improve the functionality of the joint:

  • Myofascial Release: The fascia is a type of connective tissue that surrounds and supports the muscles in our body. Sometimes, due to injury or stress, the fascia can become tight and cause pain. In the myofascial release technique, chiropractors apply gentle, sustained pressure to the affected fascia tissue, helping to eliminate pain and restore motion. This hands-on technique is designed to release tension in the fascia, which can relieve pain and improve flexibility.
  • Stretching: When our muscles are tight or strained, it can lead to imbalances and pain. Regular stretching can help increase flexibility, reduce muscle tension, and promote better posture. A chiropractor can guide patients through targeted stretches that specifically aim to relieve shoulder tension and pain.
  • Functional and Strengthening Exercises: These exercises are designed to improve the shoulder’s strength, stability, and functionality. They can include exercises that mimic daily activities or specific movements needed for sports or work. Strengthening exercises can also help to build up the muscles around the shoulder, offering more support to the joint and reducing the risk of injuries.
  • Scapular Mobilization: The scapula, or shoulder blade, plays a significant role in shoulder movement and stability. Scapular mobilization is a technique used by chiropractors to adjust the position of the scapula manually. This can help increase the range of motion, decrease pain, and improve the overall function of the shoulder.
  • Manipulation: Chiropractic manipulation, also known as an adjustment, is a technique where chiropractors use their hands or a small instrument to apply a controlled, sudden force to a spinal joint. This procedure aims to improve physical function and restore the body’s natural balance. In the context of shoulder pain, manipulation can help to realign any misaligned joints and reduce pain.

How Can I Prevent Shoulder Pain?

Taking care of your shoulders and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent shoulder pain. Here are some tips:

  • Rest: Regular rest is crucial for the recovery and health of your body, including your shoulders. If you use your shoulders intensively, make sure to rest them between workouts or activities. Avoiding overuse can prevent inflammation and strain, both of which can lead to shoulder pain.
  • Warm-Up: Warming up before physical activity is crucial in preventing injuries. It increases blood flow, improves flexibility, and prepares your muscles for activity, reducing the risk of strains, sprains, and tears.
  • Exercise Gradually: It’s important to slowly increase your workouts’ intensity and duration. This is particularly true for activities that involve the shoulder, as a sudden increase can lead to overstraining and injuries. Gradually building up allows your body to adapt to the increased stress and reduces the risk of injury.
  • Change Your Sleeping Position: Your sleeping position can contribute to shoulder pain, especially if you sleep on the affected shoulder. Try to find a position that doesn’t put pressure on your shoulder. Sleeping on your back, for example, can help reduce shoulder discomfort.
  • Practice Strengthening Exercises: Regularly performing exercises that strengthen the shoulder muscles can help protect the joint and prevent injury. Strong muscles offer more support to the joint and can absorb the impact from physical activities better.
  • Maintain Good Posture: Good posture can help prevent shoulder pain by promoting correct shoulder joint alignment. Make a conscious effort to keep your shoulders back and down, your chest open, and your spine straight when standing or sitting.
  • Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration helps maintain the elasticity and flexibility of the ligaments and tendons in your shoulder. This can help prevent shoulder pain and injury.
  • Eat a Nutrient-Rich Diet: Certain nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids, are important for joint health. Make sure your diet includes plenty of these nutrients to help keep your shoulder joints healthy and resilient.

FAQs About Chiropractic Care for Shoulder Pain

Before we dive into some of the frequently asked questions about chiropractic care for shoulder pain, it’s worth noting that each individual’s experience may vary. The effectiveness of treatment, the speed of recovery, and the presence of any side effects depend on various factors. 

These include the specific cause of the shoulder pain, the overall health of the individual, the technique used by the chiropractor, and the person’s response to treatment. Suppose you’re considering chiropractic care for shoulder pain. 

In that case, these FAQs should provide some insights and set some expectations, but always consult with a healthcare professional for advice tailored to your situation. Now, let’s delve into the questions.

What is the best exercise to avoid and relieve shoulder pain?

Regular shoulder stretches and strengthening exercises can help alleviate and prevent shoulder pain. However, the specific exercises that will be most beneficial can vary depending on the cause of your pain, so it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider or physical therapist.

Does chiropractic care hurt?

While some people may experience slight discomfort during chiropractic adjustments, most people find these treatments to be quite relieving. If you do experience pain during a treatment, it’s important to let your chiropractor know right away.

How quickly will I feel better after?

The amount of time it takes to experience relief can vary widely depending on the specific cause of your pain, the severity of your condition, and individual factors like your overall health and lifestyle. Some people may experience relief immediately after a treatment, while others may need several treatments before they start to feel better.

Are there any side effects?

While serious side effects from chiropractic care are rare, some people may experience temporary side effects like mild soreness, stiffness, or tiredness after a treatment. If you have any concerns, it’s important to discuss them with your chiropractor.

In conclusion, chiropractors can provide effective treatment for shoulder pain. With a variety of techniques at their disposal, they can offer relief from pain, increased flexibility, and a better quality of life for those living with shoulder pain. It’s always important, however, to discuss any new treatment plan with a healthcare provider to ensure it’s the best fit for your specific needs.

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