Chiropractic Care and Your Shoulder Health

Your shoulders are the most flexible, complex joints in your body. But as we age, problems can develop around this heavily-used joint. Its range of motion may become limited to the point that any movement causes pain. Shoulder problems can be so intense that the shoulder is completely frozen in place! Any effort to move it results in impossibly sharp pain. 

Many patients who come to Mattingly Chiropractic don’t realize that chiropractic problems can result in this loss of shoulder function. As a result, chiropractic care can be very therapeutic for shoulder problems and help restore pain-free normalcy. 

It might take knowing a little bit about the structure of the shoulder and the connection between the shoulder and neck vertebrae to see why this is. 

Understanding the Structure of the Shoulder

Let’s first get a little understanding of the structure of the shoulder. 

Each shoulder is made up of three bones and nearly a dozen tendons, ligaments and muscles. All these parts are involved in constructing this versatile joint which enables us to care for ourselves, hold babies, build houses and enjoy sports like golf, tennis and a hundred other fun activities.

The three bones of the shoulder are: The collarbone running horizontally from the neck to the shoulder on each side of the body; the humerus, or the upper arm bone; and the scapula, the large flat bone right behind the shoulder, also called the shoulder blade. 

There are also four main muscles supporting these bones and keeping the top of the humerus (upper arm bone) in place. These four muscles surround the shoulder blade and stabilize the entire structure while allowing for incredible flexibility and movement. All together, these four muscles form the rotator cuff. 

You may have heard of athletes suffering injuries to their rotator cuffs. Athletes may suffer overuse injuries to rotator cuffs in sports like baseball, tennis or basketball. Or these muscles can suffer tears from impact sports like football or hockey. 

Also involved in stabilizing the shoulder is the deltoid muscle, the large, strong muscle that covers the outside of the shoulder.

Treating Shoulder Pain in a Chiropractic Clinic

We should review a few basic points about vertebrae and nerves that you might already know. Here’s a simple list of facts:

  1. The spine is made up of 33 bones that reach from your skull to your tailbone. 
  2. The spine protects a large bundle of nerves that originate at the brain, reach every organ and go all the way to the tip of every finger and toe. 
  3. These nerves send messages that enable us to control our muscles and perceive heat, cold, pain and so forth. 
  4. In the neck, these bones are called the cervical vertebrae. There are seven of these cervical vertebrae.
  5. Nerves traveling from the spinal column to arms, legs, etc., emerge from the spinal column by feeding through small openings in each vertebra.
  6. If there is a slight misalignment of one or more of these vertebrae, this misalignment puts pressure on these nerves trying to reach muscles or organs. 
  7. Even a very slight pressure can result in pain or malfunction of an organ or muscle. 
  8. The person with this misalignment could feel numbness or tingling, or a part of the body could feel weak. 

The nerves that travel from the spine to the shoulder emerge between the fifth and sixth vertebrae. These bones are in the lower part of your neck. These two vertebrae need to be well-aligned for a shoulder to feel strong and be pain-free. 

If there are misalignments in this area, you’ll feel it in your shoulder and arm. Chiropractic care corrects these misalignments. That’s the basic reason why chiropractic treatment of the cervical (neck) vertebrae—specifically the fifth and sixth—can improve the function of your shoulder. 

Pinched Nerve Symptoms 

So now you know about the structure of the muscles stabilizing the shoulder and how the nerves to these muscles can get pinched. How does it feel when this happens? 

  • Your range of motion can become limited
  • You could have aches and pains in the shoulder
  • You can’t lift your arm
  • The muscles themselves can become very tender
  • The muscles may be fixed in a contracted state
  • You could experience numbness or tingling in the shoulder or down your arm

The great news is that many people can achieve relief with chiropractic care. That means no drugs or surgery. 

You shouldn’t delay, however, if you start having shoulder pain or loss of function. Early treatment can prevent these problems from becoming chronic.

Help at Mattingly Chiropractic

Dr. Dusty at Mattingly Chiropractic is experienced in relieving misalignments in the lower cervical spine and restoring proper function and sensation to the shoulder and arm. He can use chiropractic adjustments as well as Pressure Point Therapy for both the neck and the shoulder. These techniques have restored normal function and comfort for many of his patients.

If you are struggling with an inability to move your arm and shoulder normally, or if you have pain anywhere around your shoulder, contact us at (314) 635-1008. Dr. Dusty can help restore bones and muscles of the neck and shoulder to their correct alignment and functions. 

By Dustan Mattingly, April 27, 2021
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