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Why suffer with shoulder pain when it can be resolved?

By  Dr. Jon Thomas D.C PSc.D, Board Certified Chiropractic Physician.

As I mentioned in a recent post about headaches, many people wait until their pain becomes excruciating before doing anything about it. People use this approach for shoulder pain as much as anything else. They hope the pain will just go away.

Shoulder pain can come about in lots of different ways: Sleeping position, carrying heavy bags or backpacks, and using handheld devices and computers for a long time can all cause strain to the shoulder.

Many people associate chiropractic care primarily with neck or back issues. Most chiropractors also treat many other parts of the body, including the shoulders. Shoulder pain may be caused by joint irritation, by tissue irritation, or by the joint being out of alignment. Shoulder pain can frequently be relieved through a chiropractic adjustment.

How the shoulder works

Courtesy of Wikipedia
The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body. It is surrounded by nerves, tendons, bursas, and other tissues which are interconnected. Tendons attach muscle to bone. Ligaments attach bone to bone.

The shoulder is a complicated joint with a great range of motion. It gives us the ability to do lots of things with our arms. It is also a fragile joint in some ways. Overuse or unusual motion can cause damage to the shoulder.

Tendons, muscles, or ligaments around the shoulder can stretch and tear causing pain. If you have a shoulder injury, it’s very important to get it checked out sooner rather than later. That way you can resolve an issue before it becomes more serious. Most shoulder problems fall into the following categories.

Frozen Shoulder Syndrome (FSS) is a condition of the shoulder where arm movement becomes very limited. It can be both painful and debilitating. With FSS, the slightest movement can be very painful. There are three progressive stages with FSS. The first is the freezing stage. Shoulder pain gets worse over time and the range of motion becomes increasingly limited. The freezing stage can last weeks or even months.

The frozen shoulder stage is when the movement pattern in the shoulder has become extremely limited. The constant pain may subside, but pain is frequently felt whenever movement is attempted beyond a limited range of motion. The frozen stage can last several months. After that, in the thawing stage, the patient gradually gets their pain-free range of motion back.

Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon. It is generally the result of wear and tear over a period of years. It can come from excessive repetitive motion, like pitching a baseball or throwing a football. Tendonitis can also come from an injury in the form of splitting or tearing of a tendon. These injuries are sometimes referred to as rotator cuff injuries.

Bursitis is inflammation of the bursas, which are fluid sacs around the joint.  The bursas reduce friction caused by the movement of the shoulder. Excessive, repetitive use of the shoulder can lead to bursitis. Bursitis and rotator cuff tendonitis sometimes occur together.

When should you seek treatment?

Many patients ignore initial shoulder symptoms. In the case of an acute injury, if the pain is intense, you should seek treatment as soon as possible. If the pain is mild to moderate, you might wait a few days to see if time will alleviate the problem. When the pain persists past a few days, it’s time to set up an appointment.

How does a chiropractor treat shoulder problems?

An examination by a trained and experienced chiropractor will measure range of motion, as well as testing the muscle around the shoulder. As part of an examination, your chiropractor will determine the underlying cause of your shoulder pain. Among other problems, the shoulder joint can shift out of alignment causing the muscles and ligaments to pull in an abnormal way. This can lead to spasms, inflammation, and pain.

The nerves supplying the shoulder joint and tissues surrounding the shoulder originate in the neck. A chiropractor can evaluate the neck for any subluxations that may be causing interference. Shoulder problems are sometimes treated by adjusting the spine. An adjustment can restore proper movement in the spine and improve nerve function in the shoulder.

Adjustments to the shoulder can be performed to shift the joint forward or backward, depending on symptoms. An adjustment can restore the normal range of motion. It can also allow the muscles to function correctly. In many cases, a chiropractor can provide instant relief to patients suffering from shoulder pain.

A qualified chiropractor may also provide instructions on things like sleeping position, how to set up your computer so that it’s ergonomically correct, and how to carry things so that you don’t put unnecessary strain on your shoulder. A chiropractor may also suggest exercises to strengthen the shoulder and increase range of motion. 
Dr. Thomas was recently on First Coast Living with a patient  who received chiropractic treatment for shoulder pain due to a serious injury. Watch the video!


In this article, I have discussed common shoulder problems, what causes them, and how a chiropractor can help to alleviate them. Shoulder pain can be caused by several things, including tendonitis, bursitis, or a misalignment. Shoulder pain can be treated effectively by a chiropractor.

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At Vibrant Life, we address all of the key elements to add vibrance and vitality to your life. This includes nutrition, chiropractic care, and fitness. If you need to consult with a chiropractor about your neck, back, or any other health concern, please contact our office to set up an appointment.

Dr. Jon Thomas is a Board Certified Chiropractic Physician. His practice, The Vibrant Life Health Center, is located in the Mandarin section of Jacksonville. His interest in health and fitness started early, and his athletic pursuits have included BMX racing, Professional Snow Skiing, Water Skiing, Baseball, Weight Lifting, and Martial Arts. After studying and learning from some of the top health experts throughout the world, Dr. Thomas dedicated his life to helping people of all ages to transform their lives. The objective for each patient is to initiate the body’s healing and to work progressively toward a body that functions optimally. Dr. Thomas is seen regularly on TV on First Coast Living, where he discusses the transformations of his patients. He also speaks at events throughout the community and writes informative articles to improve the health of residents throughout Jacksonville.


  1. Having worked with a chiropractor for the past 2 years, I can tell you that most people wait until they are the walking wounded before they seek medical attention. By then the situation is so bad that they can hardly function. If you are having problems with your back, neck or joints, see a chiropractor to make the pain go away. You'll be glad you did.

  2. As someone who has suffered through it, I can say there's something very special about shoulder pain. Nice to know relief is available through a chiropractor.

  3. I agree. When you have pain, that usually means nerves are involved, and all nerves eventually lead to the spine. Check with a good chiropractor, and I think surgery should be a very last resort.