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Shoulder Pain Treatment: A Springfield, IL Chiropractor’s Perspective

The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the human body. It is a “ball and socket” joint, meaning that it can move in any direction. In fact, it is considered to be the most mobile joint in the body, which is helpful given the wide range of activities we need our arms for! However, because it is so mobile, it is not a very stable joint, which makes it highly susceptible to injury. For this reason, shoulder pain is a very common condition that is treated by our doctors at the Springfield Wellness Center. Shoulder pain will occur in around 70% of people at some point in their lives. Like other musculoskeletal conditions, shoulder pain can be easily divided into two main categories: acute and chronic. Around 50% of these cases will resolve within 8-12 weeks, but 40% turn into chronic problems that last for 1 year or longer, making it an incredibly frustrating condition to experience. The point is, if you experience a shoulder injury, it is extremely important to address it as quickly as possible to prevent it from becoming a chronic condition that gets more difficult to treat over time. One of the most common causes of shoulder pain seen at the Springfield Wellness Center is poor posture. Several different muscles attach to the shoulder, which makes it heavily reliant on these muscles being balanced in order to keep the joint stable. Poor posture often creates muscle imbalance, namely in the form of the shoulders rolling forward (typically in response to prolonged computer/desk work). Other common causes of shoulder pain include traumas such as falls or car accidents, stress, repetitive movements, and osteoarthritis (joint degeneration). Many of these causes tend to create misalignment of the shoulder joints. Chiropractors specialize in identifying and correcting these misalignments through chiropractic adjustments. Because there are many different causes of shoulder pain, it is essential to uncover the root cause of your problem so that your problem can be addressed appropriately.

How We Treat Shoulder Pain in Springfield, IL

Comprehensive Consultation and Exam

At the Springfield Wellness Center, we approach every new patient encounter the same way – with a thorough consultation and examination. In the consultation, your doctor will ask you several questions about your history of this problem as well as any other problems you are experiencing. They want to know about any past traumas you’ve experienced, what your day-to-day activities and hobbies are, and what kind of work you do. These things provide valuable insight into the origins of your shoulder pain and from where it could have developed. Additionally, your doctor wants to understand the effect this has had on you and your quality of life. This is your opportunity to help your doctor truly understand you, and our doctors are here to listen. After the consultation and history, the doctor will perform an examination to best determine what is causing your shoulder pain. They will perform tests such as Range of Motion, orthopedic testing, neurologic testing, and palpation to be able to rule in or rule out certain shoulder conditions. It is the job of the doctors to put the puzzle pieces together based on this information. Based on their findings, they will give you their best recommendations for care on how to best address this problem and help you accomplish your goals. In some cases, x-rays may need to be obtained in order to further understand your condition. The purpose is not to cause you any further concern, but rather it is merely to ensure our chiropractors are not missing anything when it comes to your shoulder problem.

Specific Chiropractic Care

Many people think of the shoulder joint as the joint where your arm meets your torso. But did you know there are actually other joints that are considered to be part of the shoulder as well? The glenohumeral joint is the most widely known, as it is where the humerus of the arm meets the scapula. But two other shoulder joints that commonly cause issues are the AC joint (where the collar bone meets the scapula) and the SC joint (where the collar bone meets the sternum). Joint restriction and misalignment can occur at any of these joints, and chiropractors are trained to adjust these joints to provide pain relief and restore motion and function. Our chiropractors will also take a global approach to your shoulder issue, and make sure that the areas around your shoulder are functioning well, too. It is common for people with shoulder pain to also experience neck or upper back pain, and chiropractors are experts at helping people with those types of discomfort. At the Springfield Wellness Center, we take this approach with every patient to ensure they receive the best care possible.

Massage Therapy/Soft Tissue Work

A crucial element to the success we have in treating shoulder pain at the Springfield Wellness Center is utilizing massage therapy and other types of soft tissue rehabilitation. The shoulder is surrounded by many different muscles, and it is common for these muscles to become tight and irritated as a result of everyday life. Our massage therapists are experts in alleviating the tension that builds up in these muscles, which can increase both range of motion and function of the shoulder. They will work to address the specific locations of dysfunction and help restore proper shoulder mechanics so you can get back to feeling great again. Also, our chiropractors are trained in various soft tissue techniques that are also effective in treating various shoulder conditions. One technique is known as Active Release Technique, in which the doctor will shorten the specific muscle, apply tension to it, and then lengthen and stretch the muscle through a full range of motion. This helps to break up muscle adhesions that develop and become deeply rooted in muscle tissue over time. Another soft tissue technique that is effective in reducing muscle adhesions is the Graston technique, in which the doctor will utilize a metal tool to break up the adhesions and attract blood flow to the site so the tissue can heal properly. No matter your preference, the Springfield Wellness Center is the place to go for your shoulder muscle needs.

Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan

The glenohumeral joint of the shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body. It is surrounded by the rotator cuff muscles that assist with movement and provide some stability, but not nearly as much as other ball and socket joints like the hip, for example. Striking the right balance of mobility and stability is essential when treating a shoulder condition, and our doctors and trainers at the Springfield Wellness Center are well-positioned to help you with your shoulder pain. In the exam process, our doctors will identify areas of weakness or restriction in your shoulder. From there, they work closely with our trainers to come up with a custom exercise plan that will address your unique needs. If your shoulder is weak, it likely means that more strengthening and stabilizing is necessary. If your shoulder is too restricted, it may need more stretching and mobility work to improve its range of motion. Many different kinds of shoulder conditions can cause pain, and it is our job to diagnose your problem and put you on the right path towards healing and resolution.

Deep Tissue Laser

At the Springfield Wellness Center, we leverage technology to help us stay on top of musculoskeletal conditions like shoulder pain. The most common technology we use is called Deep Tissue Laser. Laser works through a process called photobiomodulation, in which red light is used to penetrate deep into damaged tissue down to the cellular level. Through this process, inflammation is reduced, and the healing process is accelerated. Treatment only takes about 3-5 minutes to complete, and it is very comfortable. At most, you will feel a soothing warmth felt in the area being treated. Deep Tissue laser has numerous applications for shoulder conditions, making it an effective tool for our doctors to use as part of your treatment plan. It can help muscles and tendons heal by stimulating healing and inflammation reduction. It can reduce inflammation in damaged joints in the shoulder complex. The applications are vast, and that is why it is a go-to therapy for our chiropractors here at the Springfield Wellness Center.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain in Springfield, IL

Bursitis

In and around the shoulder joints exist tiny, fluid-filled sacs called bursae. These sacs provide cushioning and support for the shoulder joints so there isn’t as much pressure on the adjacent bones of each shoulder joint. Due to things like overuse and wear-and-tear, bursae can become inflamed, which causes a condition called bursitis. Bursitis causes pain typically on top of or on the outside of the shoulder. Lifting an arm overhead or rotating it in circles can be aggravating to the bursae and increase pain. This is problematic because we use our shoulders for so many different movements involving the arm. Many people are given medications and injections to treat bursitis, but it can also be effectively managed through natural means. Deep Tissue Laser therapy is a fantastic way to treat bursitis because the light energy helps reduce inflammation in the bursae and allows them to heal properly. Gentle movement exercises can also be effective in helping the bursae to heal, and our trainers can assist you with doing these exercises effectively and safely. At home, ice can also be utilized to decrease both inflammation and pain and should be applied periodically throughout the day to assist the healing process.

Frozen Shoulder

Another common condition that causes shoulder pain is adhesive capsulitis, more commonly known as “Frozen Shoulder”. The shoulder joints are enclosed in a joint capsule, in which synovial fluid is present to reduce friction during joint movement. When the capsule thickens, it begins to restrict motion in the shoulder, which can cause pain that can worsen over time. Frozen Shoulder often occurs in 3 stages – Freezing, Frozen, and Thawing. In the Freezing Stage, mobility is decreasing and it can be painful at times with certain movements. In the Frozen stage, the pain usually decreases, but movement is extremely limited. In the Thawing Stage, mobility is improving and symptoms are dissipating. Frozen Shoulder commonly occurs in people who aren’t able to move their arm as much, such as people with a broken arm bone or someone who recently had a stroke. The key to treating frozen shoulder is getting these joints moving again. Exercises and stretches should be utilized frequently to help the condition “thaw” so that proper shoulder range of motion can be restored. They should also be continued after improvement is made to ensure the shoulder stays balanced and avoids future episodes from happening. They should also be performed on the unaffected side as well, as it can be common to develop frozen shoulder in the opposite shoulder than the one that initially had it. Keeping the shoulder balanced can help maintain good mobility and posture in the upper part of the body.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Arthritis, is a condition in which the affected joint is worn down over time. It results in decreased joint space and inflammation, which can be painful and limit the shoulder’s ability to function. Some risk factors for developing osteoarthritis include, but are not limited to age, weight, past injuries, and repetitive motions/stress to the joint over time. It can affect any joint in the body, but the shoulder is a particularly common location for it to occur. With osteoarthritis, it is important to understand that it cannot be reversed. However, it can be appropriately managed to where progression can slow down and even halt. This makes treatment extremely important. At the Springfield Wellness Center, we utilize chiropractic adjustments and weight-bearing exercises to help strengthen the joint and improve its mobility. We have to preserve as much range of motion and function as we can to decrease the chance of it having a detrimental impact on a person’s quality of life. If managed diligently, the impact of osteoarthritis can be diminished, which can allow you to enjoy your life and the activities you love to do.

Rotator Cuff Injury

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that surround and support the glenohumeral joint in the shoulder, providing some stability in keeping that joint from dislocating. Rotator cuff injuries represent one of the most common types of shoulder injuries you can acquire. Straining a rotator cuff muscle can present with a deep ache in the shoulder that worsens with many different shoulder movements. It is common in athletes, but also in those who work with their arms a lot such as construction workers. Most rotator cuff injuries can resolve through entirely natural means. Chiropractic, massage, and exercise can be utilized to ensure proper joint movement, joint stabilization, and tissue healing. Utilizing ice and being diligent with exercises and stretches at home can ensure that your recovery from a rotator cuff injury is a smooth and hassle-free process. For more serious rotator cuff injuries, including more extensive tears or even ruptures, more invasive treatment such as injections or surgery may be required. Regardless, it is important to have your shoulder assessed as quickly as possible so the right strategy for care can be implemented.

Shoulder Sprain

Many people tend to confuse the terms “strain” and “sprain”. To put it simply, “strain” occurs to muscles, while “sprains” occur to ligaments that connect bones. The shoulder has several different ligaments which keep the shoulder and arm bones connected and relatively stable. Due to trauma or overuse, it is possible to sprain these ligaments, meaning fibers of the ligament become damaged. This can cause both pain and inflammation to occur, which results in both discomfort and loss of function in the shoulder. With shoulder sprains, stability becomes the key factor. Joints can sometimes be looser when ligaments are damaged, so we don’t want to further mobilize the joint. Thus, stabilizing exercises are the main method utilized to treat shoulder sprains. At the Springfield Wellness Center, our trainers focus on building strength and stability in the shoulder muscles while the damaged ligaments heal over time. We also utilize Deep Tissue Laser to further assist in and accelerate the healing process of the damaged ligaments. If there is a complete rupture of the ligament, surgery may be required, but this is not always the case. If the problem is identified promptly, it can usually be resolved through conservative treatment methods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can chiropractors help with shoulder pain?

Yes. Chiropractors are trained to assess the movement of the shoulder and identify any restrictions or misalignments that are occurring in the different joints of the shoulder. Through chiropractic adjustments, they can restore normal alignment and motion, which can help get your shoulder feeling back to normal again.

Should I see a doctor or chiropractor for my shoulder pain?

A chiropractor is a great place to start regarding your shoulder pain. They will perform orthopedic, neurologic, and functional movement testing to diagnose the problem and if it can be treated conservatively, they are very capable of doing so. If further evaluation, such as imaging or consultation with an orthopedist is necessary, then you will be pointed in the right direction to do so.

Why is my shoulder pain not going away?

We use our shoulders for so many different movements, it of course can be frustrating when the pain is not going away. If the problem has existed for a while, it can definitely take time for treatment to work and for healing to fully occur. Try to be patient with yourself, as this problem didn’t develop overnight in the first place, either. If you are under care, be sure to stay the course and follow your recommendations. Relief will come with time.

How should I sleep with shoulder pain?

If you have shoulder pain, there are two ideal sleeping positions. The first would be on your back. This allows your shoulders to relax and not be compressed. The second would be on your side with the affected shoulder up. Lying on your hurt shoulder could definitely make for an uncomfortable night, so it would be best to lay on the other shoulder if you are a side sleeper. It is not recommended you sleep on your stomach.

What is the best exercise for shoulder pain?

There are many different exercises that you can perform to alleviate shoulder pain. Focusing on the rotator cuff muscles is a great place to start. Using resistance bands around a doorknob, working on internally and externally rotating your shoulder can help strengthen these muscles so they can provide more stability for your shoulder. Over time, this can address your pain and dysfunction.

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