The shoulder is a complex and very flexible joint that consists of three bones. The humerus (upper arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (collarbone) all meet at the shoulder and are supported and connected by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. A partial dislocation of the joint or similar traumatic injury can cause shoulder pain. Muscle spasms are another possibility, and overusing the shoulder can cause inflamed tissue. Other reasons for shoulder pain can include but are not limited to gallbladder issues, bursitis, small pillow, trigger points, overuse, muscle imbalances, problems with ligaments and tendon tears. Some could be referred from cervical muscles like scalenes. The shoulder also contains small fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that can become swollen and inflamed. Many people respond to pain by limiting movement, which can cause a condition called frozen shoulder, in which adhesions develop, and then shoulder mobility is severely restricted. Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when nerves and blood vessels between the collarbone and first rib are compressed; it can cause shoulder pain.
Shoulder pain has many different causes, and whether chiropractic is effective depends on the cause. For example, degeneration of the cartilage in the shoulder may not respond to chiropractic, but the pain from a misalignment in the upper back usually will respond. Excessively tight muscles can cause spinal and joint alignment problems, as can poor posture. A chiropractor can correct the alignment problem, and assess postural issues before prescribing specific exercises to correct and improve posture. Exercise and manipulation may free up a frozen shoulder and may also help thoracic outlet syndrome.
Shoulder pain can sometimes be due to overuse; baseball pitchers tend to be subject to this condition. Overuse is typically treated with rest, cold therapy, and gentle stretching exercises. Massage therapy can help by relaxing tense muscles and relieving spasm. Deep tissue massage can loosen tight fascia (the covering over a muscle). Acupuncture helps some patients by relieving pain and spasm. In a few cases, conservative therapy just doesn't do the job, and surgery may be necessary. Severe rotator cuff tears may need surgery and if the shoulder has degenerated, a total joint replacement may be necessary. Even if surgery is necessary, massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic can help in the healing process.