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When Do You Need To Call Your Chiropractor About Your Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain, like any other pain condition, the sooner you get appropriate care the quicker the pain will go and allow you to go back to normal activities. More importantly, the sooner you get appropriate care, the less likely you are to get a recurrent and chronic problem.

If you are unsure of the cause of your shoulder pain, or if you do not know the specific treatment recommendations for your condition, you should seek Chiropractic help. Treatment of these conditions must be directed at the specific cause of your problem to be effective. 

Signs that you should seek treatment include:

  • Pain that persists beyond a few days 
  • Recurring shoulder pain, even if it has a history of settling on its own 
  • Inability to carry objects or use the arm 
  • Injury that causes deformity of the joint 
  • Pain that occurs at night or while resting 
  • Inability to raise the arm 
  • Swelling or significant bruising around the joint or arm 
  • Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, warmth or swelling

What Are The Best Treatments For Shoulder Pain? 

The treatment of shoulder pain depends entirely on the cause of the problem. Therefore, it is important for the chiropractor to accurately diagnose the problem before any treatment can start.

If you are unsure of your diagnosis, or severity of your condition, you should seek advice before beginning any self-treatment. Not all treatments listed here are appropriate for every condition, but may be helpful in your situation. Just remember, resting and taking painkillers only, is not a treatment that is likely to help your shoulder in the long-term in the absence of treating the root cause, but may well be part of what you need to do when the treatment starts. 

  • Rest: The first treatment for many common conditions that cause shoulder pain is to rest the joint, and allow the acute inflammation to subside. It is important, however, to use caution when resting the joint, because prolonged immobilisation can cause a frozen shoulder. 
  • Ice and Heat Application: Ice packs and heat pads are among the most commonly used treatments for shoulder pain. It is important to use them correctly. If you are not sure which part to cool or heat, ask us! 
  • Stretching: Stretching the muscles and tendons that surround the joint can help with some causes of shoulder pain, but can also make things worse! 
  • Exercise: Rehabilitation exercise is an important part of getting better, but it is important to know what to do and when to start exercises. Some exercises can make your condition worse! 
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications, commonly referred to as NSAIDs, are some of the most commonly prescribed medications, especially for patients with shoulder pain caused by problems such as arthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis. There are of course some natural alternatives that your chiropractor can recommend. You should be aware of the possible side-effects of long term use. The use of  either Low Level Laser Therapy, TECAR Therapy or Shockwave Therapy is likely to benefit you more. 
  • Cortisone injections: Cortisone is a powerful medication that treats inflammation, which is a common problem in patients with shoulder pain. It is an invasive approach and not without adverse-effects, but it can be a useful adjunct to chiropractic treatment, but should not be relied on as a treatment on its own. We can offer you to see one of our specialists in our clinics to discuss the possible benefits of a cortisone injection for your shoulder problem.

What Are The Causes Of Shoulder Pain? 

Here is a list of some of the most common causes of shoulder pain, for a more detailed explanation please click on the condition. 

Referred pain from the neck and Mid Back

When the structures in the neck and mid back are painful, the pain is often felt in the shoulder. It is important to remember this. Your chiropractor will always examine your neck and mid-back when you come in for shoulder pain. 

Bursitis/ Rotator Cuff Tendinitis = Impingement syndrome

One of the most common causes in patients with shoulder pain is bursitis and tendinitis of the rotator cuff musculature causing impingement syndrome. 

Rotator Cuff Tear

Different degrees of rotator cuff tears can occur. If the tendons of the rotator cuff separate from the bone, surgery is sometimes necessary. 

Frozen Shoulder 

Also called ‘adhesive capsulitis’, is a condition that leads to severely restricted movement of the shoulder. It is not as common as people think and is often misdiagnosed.

Calcific Tendinitis

Calcific tendinitis is a condition of calcium deposits within a tendon – most commonly within the rotator cuff tendons. Treatment of calcific tendinitis depends on the extent of symptoms. 

Shoulder Instability 

Instability is a problem that causes a loose or unstable joint. Instability can be caused by a traumatic injury (dislocation), or may develop over time. This can occur with or without producing a secondary impingement syndrome. 

Shoulder Dislocation 

A dislocation is a traumatic injury that occurs when the ball part of the shoulder joint (top of the arm bone) slips out of the socket (part of the shoulder blade). 

Ligament injury (Acromio-Clavicular Tear) 

Also called an A/C separation, these injuries are the result of a disruption of the acromioclavicular joint. This is a very different injury from a glenohumeral dislocation. 

Labral Tear 

There are several patterns of a torn labrum and the type of treatment depends on the specific injury. 


Shoulder arthritis is less common than arthritis of the hip and knee, but when severe may require a joint replacement surgery. However, arthritic changes are more common in the acromioclavicular joint between the collarbone and the shoulder blade. 

Biceps Tendon Rupture 

The upper part of the biceps tendon can rupture and cause shoulder pain.

Referred Pain From Internal Organs 

It is important to remember that pain from the gallbladder can be felt over the right shoulder and pain from the pancreas can be felt over the left shoulder. Most importantly, heart attacks can refer pain into the left shoulder and arm. Chiropractors are trained in medical diagnosis and one of the priorities in the examination is to rule out more serious medical conditions before any treatment can start.

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