Doc, my shoulder hurts. A lot!

  Photo by Scott Web, Pexels CCO License

Photo by Scott Web, Pexels CCO License

Throughout history our shoulders have been symbols of strength, virtue, and unity. Atlas, the Titan, balanced the world on his shoulders. Strong individuals are said to “shoulder” responsibility. When we join forces in a common cause, we say we are shoulder to shoulder with our sisters and brothers. When we’re mad or fed up with someone, we give them the cold shoulder.

As body parts go, our shoulders are amazing. The way our shoulders are designed reveals both weaknesses and strengths. On the weakness side, the shoulder is a very shallow ball and socket joint. This makes it unstable and dependent upon a group of four muscles and their tendons for support. This group of muscles and tendons is called the rotator cuff.

The advantage of such a shallow socket is that it creates a really wide range of movement and flexibility. Our shoulder sockets allow our arms to move in most any direction, providing for an impressive range of motion. Our shoulders participate in nearly everything we do, from sports to everyday activities in the office.

Those office activities, as well as sports, put stress on our shoulders, and over time they begin to show signs of complaint. First comes “Rotator Cuff Syndrome.” If left untreated this can lead to rotator cuff tears and trauma.

How Do I Know If I Have Rotator Cuff Syndrome?

1.    Do you have shoulder pain when you raise your arms above your head?

2.    Does shoulder stiffness or pain prevent you from scratching your own back?

3.    Does your shoulder hurt if you sleep on your side?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have rotator cuff syndrome.

Rotator Cuff Syndrome is inflammation of the muscles supporting the shoulder joint. This inflammation creates pain and stiffness that may spread to the neck and shoulder blades. Symptoms might range from a deep stabbing pain or a dull ache in the shoulder when reaching back or above the head. Activities that once were easy become painful, like playing tennis or golf, reaching for objects on high shelves, or using a hand-held hair dryer.

What Causes Rotator Cuff Syndrome?

Repetitive lifting is one cause. So is sitting at a desk all day, hunched over a computer. Front upper body muscles shorten and become tight, while rear upper body muscles lengthen and weaken. This causes a forward head posture and a rounding forward of the shoulders, creating stress on sensitive rotator cuff muscles.  If left untreated, this can lead to micro-tears in muscles, followed by pain and inflammation.

Some groups of people are more prone to Rotator Cuff Syndrome. Baseball, golf, and tennis players may develop repetitive motion injuries. Susceptibility increases with age, and diabetics often show symptoms.

Over time, Rotator Cuff Syndrome may result in a full-blown tearing of the tendons that support the shoulder’s four muscle groups. Don’t let that happen to you. Seek treatment as soon as painful shoulder symptoms appear.

Chiropractic and Shoulder Pain

Common medical treatments for Rotator Cuff Syndrome are steroidal injections and surgery. We recommend these only as a last resort.  Surgery is traumatic and may have a difficult recovery time. Steroidal treatments are limited to just a few, due to the destructive nature of steroids on the joints, tendons, and muscles themselves. They also increase the risk of additional injury, since the shoulder will “feel better,” without addressing the cause of the problem.

Regular chiropractic care can alleviate rotator cuff inflammation and reduce or eliminate pain naturally, without surgery or injections.

At our office we treat Rotator Cuff Syndrome with a blend of healing modalities. First, a comprehensive exam can identify sources of pain and inflammation. Then we address the problem through physical therapy, adjustment of the humeral scapula joint (shoulder), and neck and spinal adjustments as needed. Many of our patients report long-lasting, natural relief of their pain and inflammation.

So if you suffer from shoulder pain in Asheville, Weaverville, Mars Hill, or Marshall, call for an appointment today. Our comprehensive evaluation and treatment program can put you quickly on the road to recovery.