Shoulder pain

Shoulder pain syndromes, the primary muscles one anyway, involve one or more of half a dozen structures in the shoulder, some of which belong to the so called rotator cuff.


The acromio clavicular, or AC, joint is often involved, preventing full movement between the collarbone and the shoulder. It readily becomes fixated in shoulder syndromes, probably the reason that it is the second most likely joint, after the thumb, to become arthritic. More about immobilization arthritis later.

The underlying cause of many arm pain syndromes including the shoulder often lies in the cervical spine, or the first rib, also known as a thoracic outlet syndrome which affects both the artery and the nerves to the arm. Raising it above the head starves the limb of blood and nerve supply, increasing the tingling.


Rotator cuff syndrome

Rotator cuff syndrome is a common affliction; mostly it's benign but neglected often leads to chronic shoulder pain.

It behooves the chiropractor to carefully examine the shoulder to determine if the pain is a referred nerve pain, or a shoulder condition, perhaps muscular, or even a torn ligament. And if there's a history of breast or lung cancer, the cervical spine and shoulder are prime targets for metastasis.

Shoulder pain usually starts after minor trauma or an unaccustomed activity. Using a heavy drill, painting the ceiling, or lifting an unexpectedly heavy suitcase; the key is a little warm up, and that usually doesn't happen when we've never had problems before.

But, if you've previously suffered from shoulder pain, then it behoves us to do a few loosening up exercises for the neck and shoulders before beginning odd jobs.

I have a large garden, and yesterday involved a couple hours with a heavy chainsaw removing two invader species. It's hard work, and yes, fairly dangerous work. Large trees are widow makers. I wear eye protection, gloves and heavy trousers, and a few warm up rotator cuff strengthening exercises did the trick, not unlike the preparation for a game of tennis.

The rotator cuff syndrome is a painful and debilitating condition giving pain with every movement of the arm, particularly lifting it above your head, and dressing and undressing. Fortunately not many cars still have window winders, that used to be torture. But changing gear is often painful. More further down this page. Untreated, it often leads on to frozen shoulder.



Frozen shoulder

One of the most painful and debilitating conditions in our chiropractic clinics is the frozen shoulder. It's a complex condition which, untreated, medical science reckons will abate naturally over three years. Three years of hell. Nights are disturbed, dressing is difficult, putting on a jacket is almost impossible without help. Deep upper back pain is often a feature.

Many routine activities become impossibly painful. Like getting the tahini out of the fridge when making hummus. You do know about hummus, right? Your five colours in one easy dish, the second most effective food for lowering raised cholesterol and you can make this authentic hummus recipe in your own kitchen in only five minutes.


Shoulder pain

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles; if you regularly enjoy a shoulder of mutton, then you are well acquainted with the rotator cuff muscles to which for simplicity we will add the biceps muscle.

The shoulder joint is very shallow to allow for greater range of motion, but this also creates more difficulties for the shoulder. The arm bone, the humerus, is tightly held in place by ligaments and the rotator cuff muscles.

These muscles work together in harmony to enable one, for example, to bounce a flat pebble across a pond. Rotator cuff syndrome.


AcromioClavicular or AC joint

The AC joint is a vital pivot in the shoulder, located right at the tip of the shoulder. Injured frequently in falls on the outstretched arm, it has the dubious distinction of having the tendency to become the second most arthritic joint.

Mobilising and adjusting the acromioclavicular joint is one of the reasons why chiropractors have such good results in treating shoulder pain.

Untreated, the arthritic spurs from the joint will often affect one of the rotator muscles, the supraspinatus, which lifts the arm. The tendon passes immediately below the acromioclavicular joint.

The triceps muscles, the most frequently affected by a pinched nerve, often becomes very tender in shoulder pain condition, often with active trigger points found in the belly of the muscle and tendons.


If you suffer regularly from shoulder pain then I recommend you do a few simple exercises every morning before arising, and again as a warm up before strenuous work. Prevention is better than a cure, right?

This morning I'm going to be using a heavy chainsaw to get in firewood for the winter; it's difficult and dangerous work. Focus without distractions and strong shoulder muscles are vital.

Researchers have discovered that the hyaline cartilage in joints that move less, whether by being put in a sling for a prolonged period or fixated by a chiropractic subluxation, quite rapidly becomes arthritic. It's the most common cause of spinal arthritis and prevention of immobilization arthritis lies central in chiropractic philosophy.

Once your shoulder pain has healed start exercising regularly. Perhaps splitting wood for the winter, gardening, tennis; the couch potato has more pain coming.

Plant a tree for a greener planet?



Choose your tree carefully. Do you have a big garden and a warm climate? The avocado is perfect. Ours right now has over one thousand pears on it. Or do you have only a small backyard? Nothing beats the divine lemon; a scent to die for and the most beautiful fruit.

Even in Chicago you could plant it in a pot and bring it in during the winter. But you need a strong shoulder and back to dig a hole for a lemon tree; plenty of warm up is called for.

The entrapment of both the artery and brachial plexus to the arm by a first rib subluxation and or scalene muscles is a major factor in these arm pain syndromes. Starved of blood and a normal nerve supply the structures of the shoulder become vulnerable to injury. 


Deep upper back ain

Deep upper back pain is common to many conditions.

Shoulder conditions are often associated with deep upper back pain.


The computer, particularly mouse work and a poor setup should also be considered if you spend a lot of hours typing. Workstation ergonomics

Suffering from shoulder and/or arm pain?

Do you have any questions about shoulder and/or arm pain that is not getting better? Share it, perhaps others have some insights that may be of benefit.
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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.



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