Approximately one month ago, a 34-year-old female patient named Deanna, asked me what I, a chiropractor, could do to bring about relief of her shoulder pain. Over the course of my 35 years in chiropractic practice I have been able to help many people gain shoulder pain relief. This article will discuss pain of the shoulder and how chiropractic care can give shoulder pain relief.
Deanna’s shoulder pain had begun approximately one month before she came to my office. She felt her discomfort was an accumulation of daily circumstances. She had been working at home for approximately six months due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. She stated that her makeshift office ergonomics set up was not the best. Certainly not as good as the previous one at her office. Additionally, she had a two and four-year-old at home that she had to care for. When she was working at the office, she sent her children to daycare. But since she was working at home, she felt she could reduce her day care expenditures by watching the children herself. She noted this arrangement caused her pick up and carry the two-year-old more often as well as cleaning up after the kids. Clearly the sub optimal home desk/computer station and the physical activities of caring for the two children were the cause of her shoulder pain.
Before Deanna had come to my office, she had been to her primary care doctor who had given her an oral steroid, called prednisone, to take for a couple weeks. Prednisone is a powerful steroidal anti-inflammatory medication that reduces swelling. Unfortunately, it gave Deanna absolutely no relief of her shoulder pain. Her PCP said the next step was to see an orthopedic specialist for possible steroid injection into the shoulder.
Deanna did some research on the Internet and decided to check further into possible help from chiropractic services. Since she had never been to a chiropractor before I told her we would follow a procedure to determine what was causing her shoulder pain. I let her know that if I could help her, I would tell her and that if I couldn’t I would tell her that also.
We proceeded to talk further about her complaint. We found that her shoulder pain was significant but that she was also having some mild discomfort in her neck and upper back. This is important because, many times, there is an association between neck pain and shoulder pain.
When I examined her, I checked her shoulder movement which was somewhat diminished. I also felt the musculature of the neck and upper shoulder which was in significant spasm.
X-rays were taken of her neck and shoulder. The shoulder x-rays were fine, but the x-rays of her neck showed misalignments and indicated she had pinched nerves.
I told Deanna that she had two problems: the first was a mildly frozen shoulder and the second was nerve irritation coming from her neck. We proceeded to work to gain proper alignment and movement of the bones of her neck which are called vertebrae. We also did some gentle mobilization of her shoulder joint and use physical therapies to reduce inflammation and swelling of the shoulder. I saw her a couple times a week for four weeks of gentle, safe chiropractic therapy. By the end of that time Deanna had complete relief of her shoulder and neck pain and had full shoulder mobility. I told her it would be necessary for her to improve her workstation at home and to obtain some help with caring for her young children so that the problem would not recur.
This case shows the importance of looking at a patient as a whole person and not just where the source of the pain is located. Chiropractors are trained to observe and evaluate the whole patient and not specialize with a focus that would be too narrow. When a person looks for shoulder pain relief seeing a chiropractor is a must!
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