Shoulder Pain: Diagnosis, Treatment & Exercises

What Is Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain is common, not as common as back pain, but common because of the fact that the shoulder area itself is designed to favor mobility over stability. That being the case, it’s relatively easy to injure (directly or through repetitive motion or exercise) and can be impacted by a variety of joint, bone, and soft tissue-based issues. The level of pain varies depending on the cause and, well, you! Everyone’s a little different.

What Are the Different Types of Shoulder Pain?

It really depends on the cause. Has an injury to your rotator cuff led to substantial inflammation in your shoulder bursae? If so, that would lead to a degree of bursitis. Has it inflamed the tendon itself? That would be tendonitis. Suffering from a frozen shoulder? Did you get into a vehicle accident and suffer a fractured a shoulder bone? Is the discomfort caused by an arthritic condition like osteoporosis or bone spurs? This is why it’s imperative to speak with a professional when there’s an issue. Here’s a sampling of some types of shoulder pain.

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

Shoulder Pain Diagnosis

For adults, impingement of the rotator cuff tendon is the most common cause of shoulder pain. Our Better Health Chiropractic and physical therapy clinics have been in Alaska since 1998, so we can attest to that. Thing is, it’s also common for shoulder pain to be misdiagnosed by general practitioners as a local problem with the shoulder when the issue is with the cervical spine or neck. We use simple physical assessments and shoulder pain tests, or even imaging technology, to diagnose and design shoulder pain treatment programs that incorporate chiropractic medicine and rehabilitative therapy.

How to Treat Shoulder Pain?

Topical ointments may have their place, but will not address the underlying cause of pain. Rest and ice packs may also be found beneficial for temporary minor aches and pains. At our clinics, we’ll focus on using chiropractic adjustments when necessary to address the shoulder joint, shift it forward or backward, restore alignment and help the body heal itself. We can also employ physical therapy methods, help you address and correct any posture issues, and work with you in terms of food and exercise because they often play a huge role.

Find An Office Near You

Check My Insurance Coverage

How Should I Sleep with Shoulder Pain?

Well, if you’re a side-sleeper, avoid sleeping on the side that has shoulder pain. Kind of a no-brainer, and easily avoidable if it’s hurting. Instead, grab something soft to hug and choose the other shoulder until you’re healed. For back-sleepers, see if you can’t put a little cushion under the affected shoulder just to lend it a hand. And, if the shoulder pain comes with neck pain, a soft ergonomic pillow positioned between your neck and impacted shoulder can help as well.

Shoulder Pain Exercises

Because of how common rotator cuff injuries are in the sports and fitness worlds, you can imagine there are plenty of ways to use your injured shoulder without making it worse. It just depends on the cause of the shoulder pain, and whether you know what you’re doing! Stay away from military presses and heavy kettlebell swings. Instead, go for moves that are more for functionality and strengthening smaller muscles around the shoulder area by using lightweight equipment, fitness bands, or even just your own body weight, etc.

Shoulder Pain Stretches

Rather than only reading about upper body and shoulder-specific stretches (many of which could be considered exercises as well), we’d like to refer you to HealthLine.com’s article, “5 Exercises for Rotator Cuff Pain” because they included little demonstrative animated gif images so you can see the stretches in action.

  • Doorway Stretches
  • Side-Lying External Rotations
  • High-to-Low Rows
  • Reverse Flys
  • Lawn Mower Pulls