Shoulder Pain

Hikers at Sunset

What are the causes of shoulder pain?

Shoulder injuries can be complicated. Proper diagnosis and treatment is key to reducing and fixing shoulder problems.

The three primary bones that form the shoulder are, the humerus (upper arm bone), the scapula, and the clavicle (collar bone). There are many ligaments that hold those bones in place, muscles that provide all different kinds of movements for the arm, and finally bursas that provide absorption of shock between the bones, and reduce friction in movement.

There are a variety of reasons why a person has shoulder pain. I will briefly discuss a few of the most common reasons here.

Rotator cuff injury. Usually due to trauma, such as falling with an outstretched arm, or falling on a shoulder/arm. These injuries can vary from mild to severe. Small tears can occur in one or more of the muscles of the rotator cuff. The four muscles of the rotator cuff basically allow the arm to rotate. Each of these muscles performs a specific part of the rotation of the arm. A well-trained chiropractor can do quick, simple, and very effective orthopedic, and neurological tests to determine which muscle/muscles may be torn, stretched, or damaged, and to what degree. If there is a suspected tear, or significant damage to the shoulder/rotator cuff, the chiropractor may request other tests such as an MRI to get a better look at the damage and to determine what procedures or referrals may be necessary.

Repetitive stress injury. These may occur by using the arm with improper biomechanics, such as throwing a ball, lifting wrong, or repetitive wrong motions of the arm with load.

Car accidents. There are many ways to injure a shoulder in a car accident. One example would be getting hit from behind and the upper body twisting around the shoulder harness part of the seatbelt is common. People often complain of shoulder pain following a car accident. Those injuries can also occur from the jamming of the arm as the forces are transmitted up from the hands on the steering wheel at the time of impact/collision.

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome. These involve inflammation of the inside parts of the shoulder where the humerus meet and sit in a cup in the scapula. Sometimes an impingement can involve the bursa. When a bursal sac gets pinched, impinged, or otherwise damaged in can be very painful, and feels deep in the shoulder and may be hard for the patient to pinpoint. Impingements can also occur at the tendons (the part of the shoulder muscles that attach to the bones). Shoulder tendon inflammation can also be very acute and painful sometimes.

Nerve Compression. Other causes of shoulder pain can be from nerve compression anywhere from its exit from the spinal cord at the lower neck levels, to nerve pressure more close to the shoulder itself.

In conclusion, shoulder pain can be caused by many things. Its onset can be gradual and increasing over time, years of degeneration. Or it can occur suddenly as in the case of trauma.

Chiropractors are highly trained to determine what may be causing your shoulder pain, and how to make it better through a variety of safe, conservative and very effective treatments. Chiropractors are also trained to make proper referrals to specialists, if necessary.