Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is a complex joint, allowing many different movements and activities. From an anatomical view pint, the shoulder has three bones: the humerus, clavicle and scapula. There are also approximately 20 muscles and many different connecting ligaments. The gleno-humeral joint is the main articulation and is connected by ligaments and a group of muscles called the rotator cuff. A main cause of shoulder pain and disability can be found with problems of the rotator cuff.

Like other joints, shoulder pain can be due to mechanical dysfunction from muscle imbalance, trauma such as sports injury or by wear and tear of the surrounding tissue. Also, to a lesser degree, arthritic changes, although not as common as the weight bearing joints of the hips, knees or spine.


Another source of shoulder pain is the neck. The nerves from the cervical spine (neck) innervate the muscles and other soft tissue of the shoulder, arm and hand. Irritation of these nerves can cause the shoulder muscles to tighten or become week, causing problems with the normal mechanics of the joint, especially the rotator cuff. Similarly, repetitive over use of the shoulder in sports like tennis and golf can cause the muscles to become strained or overly tight. Also, poor posture, sitting in a slouched position or with the shoulders forward increases the risk of developing imbalances resulting in shoulder problems.

Rotator Cuff Syndrome:

Untreated imbalances to the shoulder can produce irritation and result in pain and limitations to normal motion. This condition is known as Shoulder Impingement or Rotator Cuff Syndrome and it’s intensity can vary from a light catching to almost complete loss of shoulder use.

Frozen Shoulder:

Another shoulder problem, common among middle age women is “frozen shoulder.” The ligaments and tendons of the gleno-humeral joint can become so irritated that adhesions form, essentially making the joint stick together. This condition can be extremely debilitating, even to the extent the pain and limited shoulder motion make it difficult for some people to get dressed! Untreated, frozen shoulder syndrome can take years to resolve: therefore, prompt treatment by a Doctor of Chiropractic is essential.


Most shoulder conditions are treated in a similar manner. Muscle imbalances are corrected with soft tissue massage or electrotherapy modalities while restoring proper mobility to the joint itself. Also, any subluxation of the spine should be corrected. Along with this treatment, special rehabilitation exercises prescribed by a Doctor of Chiropractic are essential for a rapid and full recovery.

If you are suffer from shoulder problems, give us a call at (314) 731-4201 to schedule a consultation and examination.