Healing Chronic
Shoulder Pain

  • Healing Chronic Shoulder Pain

Years and decades of mechanical stress can cause joint, ligament, and tendon degradation as we age. This degenerative process, known as arthritis, typically affects weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees, as well as those in the lower back; however, because of the amount of mobility, the shoulder, is also prone to arthritic changes. The design of this structure allows for a wide range of motion at the shoulder, but the cost is instability. The shoulder’s design compromises stability for movement.

The rotator cuff is commonly involved with degenerative shoulder disorders. The muscle-tendon units of the rotator cuff muscles, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor, make up this broad, flat structure. The rotator cuff is a thick covering that covers the head of the arm bone and supports and strengthens the shoulder joint. However, because of the shoulder’s intrinsic instability in comparison to its large range of motion, the soft tissues of the rotator cuff are subjected to recurrent stress and strain. Degenerative changes may eventually develop, resulting in the two most noticeable signs—pain and limited range of motion.

An entire orthopedic sub-specialty is dedicated to the treatment of chronic shoulder pain. This includes the long-term use of anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections when medications do not provide adequate relief, and, eventually, surgery to repair tears in the various rotator cuff tendons. When the benefits of previous surgery have been exhausted, “revision” surgery is routinely undertaken. (1)

The good news is that in many circumstances, a better method, one that makes use of the body’s own inherent healing abilities is available. Many people can reduce chronic shoulder pain and improve chronic loss of mobility by engaging in specified activities and undertaking specific rehabilitative exercises. The aims of rehabilitation are to improve the shoulder’s range of motion and strength. As these objectives are met, the intensity and frequency of shoulder pain are likely to decrease.

A common method for addressing persistent shoulder discomfort is to engage in an overall strength training program. (2, 3)

Strength training should be done gradually, beginning with light weight and gradually increasing. Shoulder workouts include sitting dumbbell or barbell presses, dumbbell or cable lateral raises, seated bent-over rows, and internal and external rotation movements performed on a flat bench with relatively light weights. If a person has suffered an acute shoulder injury, early recovery should take precedence over rehabilitative strength exercise. Pendulum movements and finger-walking up a wall in both forward and side positions are part of early therapy. (Diazepam)
Your chiropractor is knowledgeable in injury rehabilitation and can assist you in developing an effective flexibility and strengthening program for better shoulder function.