Chiropractic should be your first approach to painful shoulder conditions. Most people don’t realize how closely related their shoulders are to the neck, the upper back, chest and breathing. The actual joints of the shoulder attaching it to the body are just one, the clavicle (collar bone) at your sternum (breast bone). Most of the shoulder function is related to nerves and muscles coordinating movement and stabilization. Neuro-muscular coordination is chiropractic’s bread and butter, it’s what we work on all day long.
Shoulder problems can range from simple and easy to fix to difficult problems that are results of chronic compensation for years. Sometimes the treatment of a shoulder will evolve as we go, like peeling layers of an onion, resolving parts of the compensation until we finally get to the initial source. Often patients will go through a re-tracing of symptoms that they went through for periods of time over the years that they thought “just went away” on their own, when they actually just compensated until the body could cope no more. Simple problems may be a small joint displacement or recent strain that can be fixed in just a couple of visits. This is ideal, as it saves a lot of future problems and degeneration.
How do we treat the shoulder? There are many ways. Not all may be necessary in any given case, but here are some of the methods we incorporate. Chiropractic adjustments to locked or misplaced joints restore motion. Muscle therapy called myofascial release is used to loosen tight connective tissue and muscles. Chiropractic adjustments to the spine help restore nerve flow to coordinate the muscles of the shoulder girdle and chest. Laser therapy may be used to help heal torn muscles, reduce inflammation, and relax muscles. Muscle scraping tools may be used to break down scar tissue that has built up in joint capsules and tendons. Kinesiotape, a very special tape for muscles, may be used to reduce inflammation, stabilize the joint, or coordinate more normal movement patterns. Vibration therapy can be used to stimulate the muscles of the shoulder. Exercise therapy may be needed also to help change bad posture and strengthen weakened shoulder muscles. There are occasionally times when patients are referred out for a steroid injection, but most of the time this isn’t necessary. When is surgery needed? When a muscle is completely torn there is need for surgical treatment. Partial tears get as good or better results without surgery according to research.