By Dr. Michael Gampolo
The shoulder joint is supported by more muscles than any other joint in the body. The shoulder joint also has the highest degree of range of motion compared to any other joint in the body. This increase in the range of motion makes it the most susceptible joint to instability issues. Due to the instability of the shoulder joint, many individuals will suffer from subluxations (small dislocations) and tendonitis problems. These less severe but painful shoulder conditions are often the result of a repetitive activity or excessive use of the muscles and the ligaments that surround the shoulder joint. For instance, bursitis (a condition of inflammation surrounding a joint) is commonly found here.
The shoulder is also a common source of referred pain (pain is transmitted to the shoulder from another source.) People with neck conditions may experience this type of referred pain due to the irritated nerves that travel from the neck into the shoulder. Referred pain can also come from diseased or distressed organs.
A proper shoulder diagnosis is needed to help determine the nature (where the pain is coming from) and the degree of involvement of the shoulder condition. An examination and history aid the doctor in determining a proper diagnosis. In addition, x-rays of the shoulder or MRI may be helpful to determine the degree of damage to the shoulder joint and whether the pain is from a muscle, ligament, tendon or arthritic disorder.
The way your shoulder moves with and without pain can play a key role in determining the type of shoulder problem you have. For instance, tendonitis conditions generally are exacerbated (hurt more) when the muscle that attaches to the tendon is forcibly contracted. On the other hand, bursitis conditions generally hurt more at rest, after a period of shoulder use. Additionally, the ability to have your arm passively moved (moved by someone else) through a motion you cannot duplicate actively (move by yourself) generally indicates a muscle weakness. Whereas an inability to move your shoulder or have your shoulder moved usually indicates a bony obstruction or soft tissue swelling.
Chiropractors treat thousand of shoulder problems each year. Once your shoulder problem has been diagnosed by your chiropractor, a course of treatment can be discussed. Most shoulder problems respond well to manipulation. In addition, other therapies can be applied if needed. The goal is always to reduce pain and swelling while improving the shoulder joint motion. In addition to restoring motion, strengthening the muscles that support the shoulder joint will also help to prevent future re-injury. Additionally, your chiropractor may also work with an orthopedist if needed.