4 Ways Chiropractic Can Kill That Killer Shoulder Pain

What do chiropractors do for shoulder pain? Chiropractors identify and treat the actual cause of shoulder pain – and help get patients healthy! Chiropractic care works with the musculoskeletal systemThis means that joints, bones, cartilage, ligaments, connective tissues, and tendons of the body get direct care. This is what you want for an efficient, effective, and lasting healing process!

Care is centered around directing the body to work together as a unit, shoulders and all. Specific treatment plans are generated based on the source of discomfort. The shoulder is an integral joint and must be able to function in cooperation with the spine, neck, and the rest of the body.

A client’s shoulder joint alignment will be reviewed in relation to their pain. Alignment may seem like an obvious consideration if an injury has occurred. In reality, joints may often be slightly askew for a number of reasons not directly related to an injury. Acute and chronic shoulder pain considerations will be considered during chiropractic care.

When you think about your chiropractor, what comes to mind? Back pain? Neck pain? Maybe sciatica or joint pain. Most people never seem to link chiropractic care with shoulder pain and yet, it remains one of the most effective ways to treat painful shoulders and arms.

Common Shoulder Problems

Some of the typical types of shoulder pain issues include:

While many people believe that they either must live with shoulder pain or have surgery, the fact is that comprehensive chiropractic is extremely effective in treating shoulder pain and restoring range of motion.

Can a Chiropractor Help with Shoulder or Arm Pain?

Absolutely! Shoulder pain is often due to an irritation of the tendons, muscles, ligaments or nerves in the area. Other times, it’s due to an inflamed bursa capsule, called bursitis. Sprained or strained triceps muscles (which is in the upper arm) or the subscapularis muscle (underneath the shoulder blade itself) is sometimes to blame.

Your chiropractor will do a thorough exam and discover the root cause of your shoulder or arm pain, then create a treatment plan to address the underlying issue.

What about Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is a very painful problem that is absolutely debilitating! It makes everyday tasks, such as brushing your hair or putting on a shirt, impossible! Frozen shoulder will ruin a good night’s sleep with the pain and, if left untreated, sometimes leads to the inability to use the affected shoulder/arm for years!

Chiropractic care will treat frozen shoulder, reducing the pain, while the shoulder heals itself.

If you have ever wondered if chiropractic is good for shoulder pain, you will want to keep reading and discover the 4 main ways chiropractic can stop that annoying shoulder pain.

#1 – Can a Chiropractor Treat Shoulder Bursitis?

Can a chiropractor help with bursitis of the shoulder? Yes, they certainly can! Bursitis is a painful inflammation of the bursa sac that can take months to heal and even then, scar tissue can make this condition chronic and continue to be painful for years afterward if not treated promptly.

Ultrasound has been shown to lower inflammation, along with chiropractic massage therapy, which not only reduces pain but helps to break down scar tissue. Once inflammation is under control, chiropractic manipulation of the joint alleviates the pressure and friction over the affected bursa area. One study found that even a month after treatment, subjects who received chiropractic care and ultrasound had no pain and had returned to their normal activities.

Sometimes, your chiropractor might also suggest the use of herbal anti-inflammatories to help reduce inflammation more quickly. Bursitis, like tendonitis, tends to reoccur, making regular chiropractic care a vital part of your ongoing health care regimen.

#2 – Can a Chiropractor Treat Rotator Cuff Injury?

Many people believe that the only way to heal an injury to the rotator cuff is surgery, but this isn’t what the facts say. Rotator Cuff Syndrome is an inflammation of the muscles that support the shoulder. Inflammation causes pain, stiffness, and even weakness that can spread to the neck area. If you are unable to raise your arm(s) over your head or scratching your back, or if sleeping on that side is painful, you might have a rotator cuff injury.

Most patients who have damaged rotator cuffs need chiropractic massage therapy to release trigger points and relax the tight muscles in the armpit and anterior shoulder. Ultrasound is also helpful to reduce inflammation and if your chiropractor believes it necessary, they might also employ the use of cold laser, to allow the micro tears in the muscles to heal more quickly.

Once the pain has been reduced and the shoulder is more flexible, you will need rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the muscles and stabilize the shoulder. Only if these treatments fail after 6 months will surgery be necessary, but this is rarely the case.

#3 – Can a Chiropractor Treat Frozen Shoulder?

Chiropractic care can provide a very effective method of treatment for a frozen shoulder that eliminates the need for prescription pain medication, steroid injections, or surgery.

Most people will benefit from low force instrument adjustments and chiropractic massage therapy. Your chiropractor might also suggest an ultrasound or cold laser, as well as a set of exercises designed to restore a range of motion to the shoulder.

Frozen shoulder occurs in about 2% of all adults, most often striking those between the ages of 40 and 60. This condition is also more often seen in women, than men, although the reason for this is unknown. Frozen shoulder is when the shoulder becomes so stiff and painful that a person either cannot move their shoulder or the shoulder appears to be “frozen” in place.

Frozen shoulder happens when the connective tissue in the shoulder joint becomes very thick and tight, forming tough bands of tissue called adhesions. The reason why the body does this is unknown.  Most doctors will suggest surgery to remove the adhesions, but chiropractic care has been proven to be extremely effective in healing this painful problem.

#4 – Can a Chiropractor Treat Shoulder Injuries/Tendonitis?

After your chiropractor has done a thorough exam and examined imaging tests, such as x-rays, they will design a treatment plan designed especially for you. The doctor will want to reduce inflammation at first, which can be done through herbal anti-inflammatories, ice therapy, the use of a TENS device, and chiropractic massage.

Once pain and inflammation have been reduced, the doctor will most likely use a combination of joint manipulation, adjustments, stretching, and strengthening exercises, as well as instructing the patient on how to avoid a repeat performance of tendonitis. This usually involves changing the way the patient performs certain tasks.

Tendonitis happens when the tissues which connect the muscle to the bone become inflamed. Inflammation causes rather intense pain. In some cases, tendonitis becomes so extreme that the shoulder is virtually immobile since trying to move it causes debilitating pain. This is the reason why you can’t just let it heal on its own. More than 4 million US adults will seek some type of medical care for tendonitis.

While most cases of tendonitis occur in those over the age of 40, it can also happen to people who are involved in accidents, play sports, or have jobs that require repetitive motion, such as carpentry. Most doctors will suggest steroid injections to stop the inflammation, but corticosteroids are so damaging that these can only be used two or three times maximum before they end up causing more damage to the tissues of the body than the inflammation.

Should I Seek Chiropractic or Massage for Shoulder Pain?

There is no reason to think of this as an either-or situation. Chiropractic care and massage are the perfect complimentary couple! This is why you will find nearly every chiropractic clinic offers massage therapy on-site.

Massage will loosen tight muscles and relax the body, as well as improving circulation, which reduces inflammation and promotes healing. This preps the body for the chiropractic adjustment, allowing the doctor to more easily manipulate the joints.

Your chiropractor can also diagnose the root cause of your shoulder pain, which is something that a massage therapist cannot do. Why not take advantage of both by making your first choice for shoulder pain a visit to your local chiropractor?

How Long Will Treatment for My Shoulder Last?

This will depend on the problem and the extent of the damage or injury.

Most people find that the pain subsides significantly within the first week or two, but this doesn’t mean that your shoulder is healed, and you can stop treatment. It is vital that you continue with your chiropractor’s treatment plan until the end to ensure that your shoulder fully heals and that the problem does not return.

If you broke your leg, you wouldn’t remove the cast after two weeks simply because your leg stopped hurting, would you? This really isn’t much different.

The inflammation tends to decrease within the first 3 weeks but complete healing, in most cases, will take about 6 weeks. Even after healing has taken place, it will still take some time to break down the scar tissue that has formed so that the shoulder will have complete mobility restored.

What Kind of Approach Does Chiropractic Care Take for Shoulder Pain?

Chiropractic takes a very practical approach to heal joints. Work with the neuromuscular system and musculoskeletal system is designed to unify the body to itself. Patients will find great benefit from working with knowledgeable chiropractic physicians who can diagnose and treat shoulder pain properly, efficiently, and thoroughly.

Long-term care for the shoulder is increased when we look at it in conjunction with the health of the neighboring body parts. When pain is present in one portion of the body, other portions will automatically try to compensate for the weakened area. This can lead to additional portions that may need care. Early, effective care can work to minimize the risk of additional pain in the future.

This is especially true when chronic pain develops. When an ailment or injury has been present for some time, it is best to take a review of the body as a whole. Chiropractic works to ensure that the interconnected portions of the body are able to work together to promote healing.

Chiropractic care works to eliminate the need for most surgery. However, it also happens that patients will request chiropractic and rehabilitative therapy methods to aid in recovery if surgery has already taken place. Recovery times can often be expedited through efficient chiropractic care treatment plans.

Why Are Healthy Shoulders Important to the Body?

What is the most commonly dislocated joint in the body? Yep, you guessed it. With the fingers racing just behind, the shoulder is the most commonly dislocated joint in the body. The amount of action that this joint gets from the activities of our normal lives is tremendous. Sports, movement of large heavy objects, work-related duties, and repeated basic daily tasks all put this important joint at risk for injury and pain.

Function and mobility of the shoulder joints rank at the height of importance for many individuals. From combing our hair to tying our shoes, our shoulders must operate to help us complete nearly all of the tasks that we encounter. We would look pretty funny trying to brush our teeth with our knees. Were we to desire to brush with our feet, chances are our shoulders would still shift in the process. Their placement on the body makes them functionally important to the rest of the body.

Falls add to the likelihood of shoulder and elbow injury. If we lose our balance or begin to fall, we often try to catch ourselves with an arm in some manner. This movement places the shoulder and elbow right in the line of impact, often causing these joints to absorb the force of the fall. Ouch!

Then, add in the fun and adventures of life that we pursue and you’ve got a recipe for shoulder pain. Significant pain in one or both shoulders can mean that we will need help dressing, caring for our children, and accomplishing regular daily tasks. Finding out what is wrong and going in the direction of restoration quickly becomes part of every moment’s thought.

Common Types of Shoulder Pain

The shoulder joint is subject to many types of injury and is home to various bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles that must intricately work together. Injuries to this area can originate from many sources. Direct trauma, dislocation, laceration, and overuse and repetitive motion activities are only a few causes of injury that patients may encounter.

The cause of pain plays a significant role in how shoulder pain develops, also affecting the type of pain that may be manifested in the joint. The cause of pain must be determined in order to begin to effectively eliminate the type of pain present. A few of the underlying causes of shoulder pain include:

  • Bursitis (inflammation of one or more shoulder bursae)
  • Tendonitis (inflammation of one or more shoulder tendons)
  • Frozen shoulder (tightening, thickening of the shoulder capsule)
  • Arthritic (osteoporosis or bone spurs)
  • Fractured bone (a break in the scapula, clavicle, or humerus bone of the shoulder)
  • Dislocation (upper arm bone becomes removed from its socket, by force)
  • Damage to the rotator cuff (see below)

Seeking professional information regarding the cause of shoulder pain is important for deciphering which type of pain will need to be considered for treatment. A few types of shoulder pain include:

  • Shoulder Blade Pain
  • Pain Under the Shoulder Blades
  • Sharp Pain in the Shoulder when Breathing
  • Pain Directly in the Shoulder Joint
  • Lateral/Bilateral Shoulder Pain

What is the rotator cuff anyway? The socket of the shoulder is rather shallow and requires muscles and tendons to help keep the upper arm bone in place. The tendons and muscles that surround this joint and its shallow socket are sometimes referred to as the rotator cuff.

Discover the Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustment for Shoulder Pain

Those suffering from shoulder pain may not know that chiropractic for shoulder pain offers great added benefit. Due to the intense work that chiropractic care does for joints in the body, it actually makes a lot of sense to have a physician of this type to guide healing. Care is specific, natural, and client-oriented.

Imaging technologies, physical assessments, and pain tests may be utilized to diagnose the cause of shoulder pain. From there, a shoulder pain treatment plan can be orchestrated to allow for the most efficient healing process for each patient’s needs. Recovery plans may include chiropractic adjustments, rehabilitative therapy, and chiropractic massage therapy.

Chiropractic adjustments may be used to address the underlying cause of pain. Even if a joint has not been dislocated, it may not be positioned in a way that allows the neuromuscular system to function properly. The body uses pain to let us know that something is not exactly right. Signals, registered as pain, will let us know that something needs attention.

With a chiropractic adjustment for shoulder pain, the joint is gently shifted, realigning it to its natural positioning. This key role of chiropractic care helps the body to recognize its own ability to regain wellness. The neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems can begin to work in tandem for the benefit of the patient as care is provided.

The body naturally wants to eliminate pain. Chiropractic adjustments work as a wellness reminder within the body. Eliminating shoulder pain often means helping the body to remember its natural pain-free positioning.

As pain decreases in the shoulder, strength may also need to be replenished in the joint muscles. Nearby muscles that have been affected may require restorative care. When strength is diminished in the body as the result of an injury or otherwise, rehabilitative steps work to restore muscle over a series of treatments.

Chiropractic treatments will also work to address and correct posture that may be affecting the shoulder joint. We often do not realize the impact of the position in which we place our bodies during the 24 hours of each day. It is not uncommon for us to place our bodies into posturing that contributes to – or even creates – an underlying cause of pain in the body. Chiropractic care works to diminish the effects of our indirect actions upon the body such as daily posture habits.

Hobby and Sleep Considerations

Working to get the most out of your care means communicating with your chiropractic physician on matters that will not be directly visible from his or her office. Hobbies and repetitive daily tasks may need to be eliminated for a time while healing. Be specific when speaking with your chiropractic physician on how pain is experienced.

Sleep positions can play a role in the body’s efficiency to heal from shoulder pain. Adaptations to positions for sleeping may be necessary for a short time to promote healing. Check with your physician for sleep positions that may benefit your injury or ailment the most as you heal. In the process, be sure to inquire if your current sleep position may be contributing to the cause of your pain.

Chiropractic Care for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Well, it is no secret that shoulder pain often brings neck pain. Imagine an antique scale that is meant to provide a balance between its two sides to show when the sides are equal.

Each side is directly affected by the other. The middle balancing mechanism takes on the biggest portion of alteration and allows for the other side to represent the difference. The neck often takes on this role of a ‘middle mechanism’ between the shoulder units. When one shoulder has an issue that needs attention, great tension can develop in the neck area.

Chiropractic treatments work to bring alignment back into the body as a whole, directly healing to the neck as well as either one or both shoulders.

Perhaps you are uncertain if your pain actually originates from the neck or one shoulder or the other. You may have pain in both shoulders and your neck. Sometimes we do not realize the impact that our daily activities can have on our bodies. It is easy in today’s modern world to get into repetitive postures that can dramatically affect the bits of us that we cannot see. Then, once we become aware of our habits, it can take some work to get us back to a ‘pain-free’ status.

Whether your pain originates from an injury, usage habits, arthritis, or something else that life has brought, healing is attainable. Chiropractic care for neck and shoulder pain can rapidly bring balance and alignment to the body, reducing the need for nerves to send their alerts that something is not right. Treatment plans often include a comprehensive approach to further increase the benefits of restorative care.

Getting the Care and Balance You Need

Our chiropractors at Better Health Chiropractic Juneau are ready to help you solve and alleviate shoulder pain. Comprehensive care is available and may include physical rehabilitation therapies, chiropractic adjustment, and massage therapy. If pain has been present for any length of time, wait no longer to get the healing that your body needs. Read our reviews to find our what patients say about us.

If your injury is new, the sooner care begins, the more efficiency you may experience with your process of healing. If you are uncertain of the origin of your pain, we can work with you to determine a diagnosis and create a care plan just for you. You do not have to understand your pain in advance for us to help you recover from it. Chiropractic for shoulder pain is designed to discover the source of discomfort and effectively treat any underlying causes. Whether you need a chiropractor for shoulder impingement or you need answers about why your shoulders hurt all the time, we can help.

Let Better Health Chiropractic give you – and your body – the balance that brings freedom from pain. Contact us today online! Patients may also choose to call 877.346.5255 for an initial appointment at one of four Alaskan locations. We welcome you to inquire with us about insurance coverage too!

About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Dr. Brent Wells has been a trusted chiropractor since moving his family from Oregon to Alaska back in 1998 and founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab – B.S. from Univ. of Nevada, Doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College, volunteer for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation, and member of the American Chiropractic Association. As a chiropractor his focus is on family, including his 3 children and wife of 20+ years, his clinics, and ongoing education.


If you are from Alaska, get Dr. Wells’ latest health advice and a free massage certificate. Sign up now!