Your shoulders are made up of a number of muscles, ligaments, tendons and cartilage, all of which can suffer damage. Using your shoulders for repetitive motions, such as performing manual work or playing sports like baseball, swimming or tennis, puts you at risk for injury. It is important to talk to your practitioner at the first sign of injury, because if left untreated shoulder injuries can lead to chronic pain and loss of functioning. Read on to learn about four common shoulder injuries that chiropractors encounter as well as signs and symptoms to watch for.

  1. Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy

One common issue is shoulder impingement, also known as rotator cuff injury. The condition tends to occur when you repeatedly lift your arms overhead. You’ll feel tenderness at the front of your shoulder or even halfway down your arm. It may also be painful to lift your arms, and you could also have trouble sleeping. The tendinitis phase of inflammation is very short, lasting anywhere from a few days to about a week. Partial healing may occur, but after that, abnormal tissue (i.e. scar tissue) replaces the small micro tears in the tendons.

As the symptoms are minor at first, patients often neglect to seek early treatment. Yet, this can exacerbate the problem; leading to pain that starts at the shoulder and runs down the entire side of the arm. You may also experience a sharp pain when you use your shoulder or even mild discomfort all the time.

  1. Torn Rotator Cuff

Another way you can injure your rotator cuff is through tears. You’ll feel a dull aching sensation in the muscles and tendons that are deep within your shoulder. You may also find it more difficult to move your arm, particularly to reach behind you or overhead. The pain is often worse when lowering the arm.

  1. Dislocated Shoulder

Shoulder instability can lead to dislocation. This happens when the upper arm bone shifts and pops out of its socket. Pain can be severe, causing muscle spasms, and it may even be clear just from looking that your shoulder is dislocated. Shoulder dislocation can also lead to conditions like labral tears.

  1. Frozen Shoulder

The technical name for frozen shoulder is adhesive capsulitis. The injury progresses over a year or more, starting with stiffness, inflammation, and discomfort in the joint and leading to a limited range of motion and increased pain.

Your chiropractor will work with you to develop a recovery plan targeted to your specific injury. Treatment may include a combination of manual therapy such as ART and adjustments, or further intervention in the form of acupuncture or massage to help ease pain and relax muscles. Acupuncture has been shown to be clinically effective in treating pain, particularly in the low back and shoulder, and is a service we are proud to have available in our clinic to provide a more complete care to patients. Therapies such as low level laser can also help reduce pain, reduce inflammation and enhance tissue healing. You can expect to be given some stretches and rehabilitation exercises to do at home, and you may even need to learn new ways to do old tasks to help reduce hyperactivity of compensating muscles.

If you’re experiencing persistent shoulder pain, email us at to book a consultation with one of our chiropractors to find out the source of your pain.