Dr. Dusty’s Shoulder Pain Story

I’d like to share a story with you in regard to my shoulder. Back in 1989, I was going to Illinois State University to complete my prerequisites to go to Palmer College of Chiropractic. One night, I was on my bike in my garage and I did a tight turn to leave the garage so I could go for a bicycle ride.

In the process of turning, I fell onto the ground on my right side. Specifically, I fell onto my shoulder, whiplashed my head and it really hurt. But I got up and brushed myself off, got back on my bicycle and went for my ride.

The next day, I woke up, and my shoulder was inflamed and sore. The pain was very, very deep. And I thought, “Oh, for sure, I’ve broken my arm.” So I decided, “Well, I’m going to go to the Illinois State University Clinic and get checked out by the medical doctor there.”

I requested an x-ray, and so they took an x-ray and came back and said, “Well, Dustan, your shoulder is not broken. Your arm’s not broken.” I thought, “Oh, my God. Well, what could this be?” I believe they prescribed some painkillers or ibuprofen or something like that.

A Few Days Later, More Shoulder Pain!

After a few days had gone by, the pain got worse. The pain was really deep. It actually had started to wrap around my arm. I went back to the clinic and had another set of x-rays taken. 

“Sorry, Dustan, no broken bones.” Really, at that time, I didn’t know what to do. 

A few days later, I had a short break, so I went to see Dr. David Forbes, my chiropractor in Henry, Illinois, where I grew up. He got me on the table and did an exam and said, “Well, geez, you’ve got a pinched nerve in your neck. You feel the tension in there and the soreness?” It was very painful on my neck, but I didn’t even know that because the pain was so bad in my shoulder.

Chiropractic Therapy Begins

Dr. Forbes did some therapy on me and then adjusted me, and within three or four adjustments, my pain started to diminish significantly. And, of course, I continued to get some care with him over the years after that, too.

What is the moral of the story? Just because your pain is in your shoulder, you could actually have a pinched nerve in the cervical vertebrae of your neck. You might be diagnosed with conditions like these:

  1. Acromioclavicular joint separation (where the collarbone meets the shoulder blade) 
  2. Arthritis
  3. Bursitis
  4. Tendonitis
  5. Frozen shoulder
  6. Rotator cuff muscle tears

The bottom line is that if you’ve got a pinched nerve in the mid-neck or lower neck (the fifth or sixth cervical vertebrae), you could end up with one of these diagnoses. 

Even the diagnosis of a “frozen shoulder” or some rotator cuff muscle tears really could be caused by a pinched nerve in your neck. It could happen that there’s not the right amount of nerve supply getting into those muscles. That creates a situation where your rotator cuff muscles get torn, or it can create a situation where you get a frozen shoulder. Or it creates a situation where you get bursitis or tendonitis.

Seek a Chiropractic Evaluation

So the bottom line here is to make sure that you get evaluated by a chiropractor to look for pinched nerves in your neck to see if that might be causing any of the problems on the list above.

If you know somebody that has shoulder problems, make sure they get to their chiropractor and get checked out. In the St. Louis area, make sure they come see me and get checked out.

There’s my story on my shoulder. I look forward to seeing you in the office whenever you need help with a shoulder problem so I can help you live a pain-free life.

By Dustan Mattingly, May 25, 2021