The shoulder is a complex joint. It needs to be stable enough to allow heavy forces to transfer through the arms, but flexible enough to bend those arms through the widest range of motion of any joint in the body. How does it do that?
The shoulder only has one true joint attaching it to your body. The clavicle attaches to your sternum, or breastbone, and acts as a strut to keep your arm at your side. The rest of the shoulder bones are only attached to your body by muscles and tendons. This gives them unmatched freedom to move your arm in any position you like. This setup is necessary to allow us to do many of the unique things we humans can do with our arms, but it also makes the injuries that happen in the shoulder unique as well.
What can go wrong in the shoulder
Injuries to the shoulder can be grouped according to the type of structure affected.
- The muscles and tendons can be over-worked, over-stretched, pinched, or torn. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles coming off your shoulder blade, and works like four fingers holding your arm bone to your body. See below for more on muscular injuries. This is the type of shoulder pain that can be helped most effectively by chiropractic.
- There are ligaments in the shoulder connecting the bones, and they can be sprained. This is most common in the AC joint. The shoulder ligaments are also what is affected in Frozen Shoulder.
- Any of the shoulder bones can be fractured or dislocated. Arthritis can also affect the shoulder as it can in any joint.
- The nerves going to your arm have to run past the shoulder. This kind of pinched nerve can be a source of burning or electrical pain in your arm.
- The shoulder also has a labrum, or a cartilage cup which accepts the arm bone, and multiple bursae, or small lubricated sacs that reduce friction. These structures can also be a source of shoulder pain.
Can a Chiropractor fix shoulder pain?
Yes. Many types of shoulder pain are functional in nature. This means the shoulder is not positioned correctly or is not moving the way it is designed to. Abnormal positioning or movement can pull, pinch or tear some of the structures in the joint. A chiropractor specializes in restoring the proper movement and position of the body’s joints. The shoulder’s close relationship to the spine – the shoulder blade rests on the ribs in your back – means that a chiropractor can fix shoulder problems at the source.
Some shoulder issues may require surgery no matter what you do. This is especially true if a problem is ignored and allowed to worsen. Dr French is trained to diagnose exactly what is wrong, and can help decide when an MRI or surgery may be appropriate for you. However, he is committed to doing whatever can be done to prevent surgery if possible.
Rotator Cuff Impingement and Posture
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that originate from the shoulder blade and wrap around the humerus, or arm bone, to hold it in the socket. The shoulder socket is not a deep cup, like your hip. It is much more shallow, so muscles are needed to keep it in place. They act kind of like four fingers holding onto the arm bone. When your posture is correct, the rotator cuff also works correctly, and rarely causes any problems. However, when you hold your shoulder in a forward-rotated posture every day – very common with all the computer work, driving and texting we do – these muscles can get pinched between the poorly positioned bones, or get overworked, which makes them more susceptible to tearing. Dr French focuses on posture, and can help with correcting it using adjustments and exercise.
Frozen shoulder is a condition that comes when the ligaments surrounding the shoulder stick to each other, often after a different injury to the shoulder. This painful condition is marked by a severe restriction in the amount the arm can move. It is much better to prevent frozen shoulder than go through the treatment of loosening up the capsule. For that reason, it is important with any shoulder pain to have it treated and not just to stop using it and hope it goes away.
Make an Appointment
Dr French has special training in sports injuries and posture related to shoulder pain. If you are dealing with shoulder pain and are near Norwalk, CT, schedule an appointment at our Norwalk chiropractic office by clicking the button below, or contact us with any questions, and start getting back to your life.