conditions we treat

shoulder pain

Common shoulder injuries include separation and dislocation, but pain can also be caused by problems with posture, deconditioning in the mid-back, and conditions in the neck and spine.

Shoulder pain and injuries are common, especially in athletes who play sports with repetitive overhead movements like baseball, volleyball, weight lifters, rock climbers, swimmers, cyclists and football players, as well as adults going about their daily lives who lean over computers and mobile devices.

The most common shoulder injuries include:

  • Subacromial impingement
  • Bicep tendinitis
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • AC joint sprains
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Arthritis

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How are shoulder injuries diagnosed and treated?

The shoulder is particularly susceptible to injury because it is a ball-and-socket joint, the most versatile type of joint in the human body. Such joints offer virtually unrestrained movement, with the flip side being that they are prone to a wide variety of injuries.

At Premier Sports & Spine, we understand that many types of injuries can cause shoulder pain, so taking the time to properly diagnose the root cause of the injury is critical to treatment. Our sports chiropractors will take the time to fully review your medical history, evaluate your shoulder and surrounding areas, assess your range of motion, and perform a complex orthopedic and neurological examination to identify the actual root of the pain and injury.

Naturally, if a patient complains of shoulder pain, a chiropractor will concentrate on that part of the body. However, chiropractic care is based on the concept that connected parts of the body affect each other and that an injury to one area might be the result or cause of injury to another. As such, the interconnected joints—like the wrist, elbow, shoulder, and spine—will also be examined. At Premier, we look for the root causes of pain like bone injuries, bone spurs and investigate if arthritis is a factor.

Because we treat conditions in the entire musculoskeletal system, the quality of the soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments will also be assessed. Further diagnostic tools like X-Rays, EMG or MRIs may need to be used in some cases.

After receiving an accurate diagnosis, patients suffering from a shoulder injury will receive a  highly specialized treatment plan to relieve pain and help return to normal activities, additionally reducing the likelihood of a repeat injury. 

Once the problem has been identified, a sports chiropractor will prescribe a set of treatments, exercises, and practices that will help manage the condition and reduce—and eventually eliminate—any pain. Additional treatment techniques may include the application of heat or ice, ultrasound, cold laser, stretching and physiotherapy exercises. Ergonomic conditions may be assessed as part of the treatment plan for a reduction in pain and the prevention of repeat injury. 

What is a shoulder separation?

A shoulder separation refers to the stretching or tearing of ligaments where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the shoulder blade (scapula), also called the acromioclavicular or AC joint. If these ligaments partially or completely tear, the clavicle can slip forward and detach from the scapula.

Typically this type of injury occurs as a result of a sudden, traumatic event such as a direct blow to the shoulder (like a football tackle) or a fall onto an outstretched hand (like a falling off a bicycle or horse).  A person that has a separated shoulder will experience some very common symptoms such as severe pain at the time of the injury, swelling, minor deformity and/or bruising.

If a patient experiences a less severe shoulder separation, a sports chiropractor will typically try to treat it non-surgically. However, severe separations in an upward direction or dislocations in the backward or downward directions often require surgery to repair the ligaments.

What is a shoulder dislocation?

In comparison, a dislocated shoulder occurs when the head of the upper arm bone (the humerus) “pops” out of the socket. A shoulder can dislocate forward, backward or downward, and may cause tendons and ligaments in the shoulder to tear. The most common symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include swelling, numbness, weakness and bruising. The muscles in a person’s shoulder also may begin to spasm due to the disruption, intensifying the initial pain.

A patient with a dislocated shoulder will be treated in the emergency room or urgent care, where a provider will pull on the shoulder until the joint is realigned and the upper arm bone in back in place. Additional treatment from a sports chiropractor may be required at a later date, based on the patient’s age, persistent dislocation of the shoulder, and the injury of underlying soft tissue either to the rotator cuff or the capsulolabral complex.

Life after a shoulder dislocation or separation can be greatly affected for several weeks or even months. Some shoulder injuries, whether treated surgically or non-surgically, require a period of rehabilitation. If the injury was not severe, there is a fairly rapid improvement and a return of function after the first 4 to 6 weeks. Shoulder exercises are usually necessary, as they help to decrease stiffness, improve range of motion and regain muscle strength.

In certain cases, severe injuries may require the intervention of a specialized orthopedist. In the event a referral is needed, we collaborate closely to obtain the best result for the patient.  

Any shoulder injury requires prompt treatment to prevent a chronic situation from developing. It is imperative to seek medical attention at the earliest possible opportunity.

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Frequently asked questions

What can you expect from a visit with the sports chiropractors at Premier Sports & Spine? Read about what a visit entails in our FAQ.