Recently, I had a patient, Abby, a high school swimmer who came to my office because she was experiencing shoulder pain. She was just starting the swimming season in her senior year. She was concerned that her complaint would cause her to miss competing in her last year of eligibility. This article will discuss shoulder pain, its causes and how chiropractic treatment can be of help with those suffering from pain of the shoulder.
When most people consider chiropractic care they think of back and neck pain relief. While neck and back complaints make up the bulk of problems my patients experience, I also am able to help other conditions in my chiropractic practice of over 37 years. Swimmers frequently experience shoulder pain. In fact, it is so ubiquitous that it has been tagged with its own name called “swimmer’s shoulder.”
Abby’s parents had already taken her to a physician’s assistant who had prescribed anti-inflammatory medication and recommended seeing an orthopedic surgeon. The physician’s assistant said the surgeon would most likely give Abby an injection of more anti-inflammatory drugs and then they could see if she had enough pain relief to resume swimming.
Her parents, looking to find a more natural type of care, and seeking correction of the cause of the pain versus merely suppressing symptoms thought seeing a chiropractor was worth investigating.
During Abby’s initial visit I performed a thorough evaluation of not only the shoulder but of other areas to identify any and all factors contributing to her shoulder complaint. We found that in addition to irritation of her shoulder bursa and tendons she had alignment problems of the spinal bones of the neck, which is called the cervical spine.
A sometimes-overlooked feature of the shoulder is its association with the cervical spine. If the bones of the cervical spine are misaligned and not moving freely it can contribute to shoulder discomfort.
In Abby’s case we took an approach of treating the various factors causing the shoulder condition. Cold pack applications were used to help the bursitis and tendinitis inflammation of the shoulder itself. I performed safe, gentle chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine to improve mobility and alignment. We also gave her exercises to improve poor posture that included rounded shoulders and forward head position.
I’m happy to report that Abby’s shoulder pain diminished rapidly, she said her shoulder felt stronger than ever during her swimming practices and we were able to give her shoulder pain relief naturally, without the use of potentially harmful pharmacologics.