Help, I Have Shoulder Pain! Shoulder Problems Series Part 2

In the previous article, we discussed shoulder pains caused by arthritis, fractures and shoulder instability. We’re rounding off the series with one last (large) category: tendinitis, associated with shoulder impingement syndrome.

What is shoulder impingement syndrome?

Shoulder impingement syndrome describes irritation of the rotator cuff muscles (which, as the name suggests, helps with rotating and moving your shoulder) during overhead shoulder motion. This can be due to the following issues:

  • Tendinitis
  • Bursitis
  • Ligament injuries
  • Muscular imbalance
  • Bone spur or malformation
  • Frozen shoulders

If this seems intimidating, don’t worry—we’ll take a look at each of these issues one-by-one!

Tendinitis and Bursitis

Shoulder tendinitis occurs when a tendon in your rotator cuff, biceps or triceps becomes irritated. It’s typically caused by overuse, awkward shoulder movements, poor posture or accidents. Bursitis happens when your bursa—thin fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction between the bones in your shoulders—get inflamed, usually due to falls and injuries. It sometimes happens with tendinitis in the surrounding tendons.

These treatments and tips are commonly used to manage both conditions:

  • Rest and apply cold therapy (ice pack) to the affected area to reduce swelling.
  • Engage in pain-free movement exercises in moderation.
  • Consume supplements such as Omega 3 fish oil to nourish and strengthen the tendons.
  • Seek chiropractic treatment and ultrasound therapy for tailored help.
Chiropractic treatment at My Chirocare can help with reducing tendinitis and bursitis.

Ligament injuries

Impacts to the shoulder may sprain or even tear your shoulder ligaments! Acromio-clavicular (AC) tears, which happen when the clavicle bone separates from the shoulder blade, is the most common type of shoulder ligament tear and causes swelling and bruising.

Typically, for such ligament injuries, an X-ray examination to check for fractures will be conducted. If the AC injury is a mild strain or partial rupture, it will be managed conservatively (non-surgically): this involves pain medication, rest and cold therapy. As usual, Omega 3 and collagen-rich foods and supplements are recommended to speed up recovery, along with ultrasound therapy and chiropractic treatment.

Fish is a good omega 3-rich food.

Muscular imbalance

Our shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint supported by many shoulder muscles around it. When these muscles don’t work synergically, mal-positioning or misalignment occurs— spaces where the shoulder tendons pass between the bones get irritated.

To improve muscular balance, partake in rehabilitation exercises to tone the muscles around your joints. Electrotherapy and chiropractic treatment are also useful in restoring muscular balance.

Bone Spur and Malformation

Bone spurs are calcium deposits that form on the bone due to pressure on the joints caused by abnormal joint function or misalignment.

While many people think that bone spurs are linked with ageing, that’s not entirely true! Rather, the problem lies with how long the problem has been left untreated: the longer it’s been neglected, the more severe it is. It’s also not fully true that bone spurs cause pain; this only happens when the spur is pressing on other tissues like muscles, tendons or nerves.

Mild bone spurs can be treated with moderate pain-free movement exercises and workouts that strengthen rotator cuff muscles. Severe cases, in which the size of the bone spurs has compromised the surrounding tissue significantly, require surgery. Of course, chiropractic treatment also greatly helps with mitigating bone spurs.

Frozen Shoulder

Finally, frozen shoulders, known as adhesive capsulitis, causes pain, stiffness and restricted shoulder joint movement. Often caused by unknown conditions (although sometimes other injuries may be responsible), it happens when connective tissue around the shoulder thickens and may last for one to three years.

Chiropractic treatment is the most effective way to treat frozen shoulders. It typically focuses on preserving the joint’s range of motion, thus minimising pain and accelerating recovery. A 2012 study involving 20 male and 30 female patients in chiropractic treatment revealed the following results:

  • 16 resolved completely
  • 25 were 75% to 90% improved
  • 8 were 50% to 75% improved
  • 1 was 0% to 50% improved
  • All subjects sought treatment between 11-51 days, with a median period of28 days

In short, the vast majority (41 out of 50) of patients made significant recoveries pretty quickly!

Other means of treating frozen shoulders include rest, moderate shoulder exercises, ultrasound therapy and Omega 3-rich supplements. More extreme options include steroid injections and surgery; the latter is a last resort strategy and very rare.

Moderate shoulder exercises, with expert guidance and advice, help treat frozen shoulders.

Conclusion

You’ve made it this far—thank you for keeping up with this series on shoulder pains! Should you have any concerns about your own shoulder pains, book your appointment with us at 62084669 or wecare@mychirocare.sg—we’ll be here to plan the best course of treatment for you!