The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body — and one of the most prone to injury. Shoulder pain can be particularly debilitating because of the number of day-to-day activities that require the use of shoulders. Without even considering activities like picking up objects, simple tasks such as brushing teeth or putting on a shirt require shoulder mobility.
As many as 95 percent of cases of shoulder pain are attributable to impingement syndrome — that is, normal movement is somehow impinged, usually due to bursitis or tendinitis.1 Without proper treatment, rotator cuff tendons that are impinged and inflamed can wear thin and eventually tear.
Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common shoulder injuries. They can occur suddenly or as a result of untreated tendinitis. People who play sports like tennis or who swim must repeatedly reach overhead and are especially vulnerable to rotator cuff tears. Falling on a shoulder or an outstretched arm can cause a rotator cuff tear, as well. There are many ways for people to incur the injury. After all, the shoulder is complex and somewhat delicate due to its range of motion.3
In some cases, surgery is the patient’s best option; however, in many instances, a more conservative treatment plan is viable. In addition to ice, massage, and strengthening exercises, DCs can perform some gentle adjustments to help patients recover range of motion as the tendon heals. Instrument adjusting uses low force and happens quickly, making it an appealing method for adjusting in the case of a torn and healing rotator cuff injury.
Adhesive capsulitis, commonly called frozen shoulder, is another notoriously painful and difficult-to-treat condition. The causes are not well understood, though there is some evidence that people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing the condition.
Many people with frozen shoulder endure years of pain, and traditional treatments are often unhelpful. In some cases, instrument adjusting can provide relief.
Although instrument adjusting may not be the only treatment for patients suffering with shoulder pain, it could well represent an important part of the overall treatment plan.
Adjustments delivered with instruments are low force, gentle, and quick, making them easier for patients in great pain to handle.
Hains G. Chiropractic management of shoulder pain and dysfunction of myofascial origin using ischemic compression techniques. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. http://www.jccaonline. org/ecms.ashx/PDF/2002/20023/ ChiropracticManagementofShoulderPain.pdf. Published 2002. Accessed 2014.
WebMD. Shoulder Impingement Syndrome. http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/impingementsyndrome.
Medical Multimedia Group, LLC. A Patient’s Guide to Rotator Cuff Tears. Winchester Hospital Chiropractic Center.
http://www.winchesterhospitalchiro.com/rotator_cuff_injuries_and_tendonitis.html. Accessed 2014.
Grisanti R. Frozen Shoulder: The Diabetic Connection. The American Chiropractor. http://www.theamericanchiropractor.com/articlesotherarticles. html?limit=5&start=124. Published 2010. Accessed 2014.
Polkinghorn BS. Chiropractic treatment of frozen shoulder syndrome (adhesive capsulitis) utilizing mechanical force, manually assisted short lever adjusting procedures.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7790781?dopt=Abstract. Published 1995. Accessed 2014.