SHOULDER PAIN and ROTATOR CUFF INJURIES
The shoulder joint is the most movable joint in the body, capable of moving 360 degrees around its socket. With this amount of range of motion comes one major setback; it is the least unstable joint in the body.
The shoulder joint is held in place entirely by muscles, namely the rotator cuff muscles. This is a group of four muscles. Their names are:
Some people refer to the rotator cuff muscles as the S.I.T.S. muscles since this is taken from the first letter of each muscle. The SITS muscles, or rotator cuff muscles, are shown below:
If you have ever had a shoulder injury, you are perhaps aware that aside from the pain, it has to be one of the most inconvenient injuries to have. If it is on your dominant side, the right for most people, just about every little thing is affected; from eating to dressing yourself in the morning to driving a car and working.
There is no way around it unless you start getting used to doing things with your other hand. Still, that is not much of a consolation when the speed of your life demands you to be at 100%.
The shoulder also has 4 main articulations, or joints. These are the 1) gleno-humeral joint, 2) the acromio-clavicular or AC joint, 3) the sterno-clavicular joint, and 4) the scapulo-thoracic joint.
Most athletes are aware of the first two since that is where most injuries take place, such as shoulder sprains, dislocations, and separations.
Evaluating the shoulder joint is rather complex as you might imagine since there can be movement or restricted movement in many different planes.
Chiropractors are expertly trained to evaluate shoulder problems first taking in the mechanism of injury and then the exam itself. Typical exam procedures include a range of motion study, muscle strength evaluation, sensory nerve distrubition, and orthopedic testing.
Once the chiropractor is able to make an accurate diagnosis, treatment may include modalities such as ultrasound, muscle stimulation, trigger point therapy, massage, and exercise.
Shoulder adjustments may also be performed by a licensed chiropractor. Adjustments are easy to perform when necessary and they are usually painless. Here is Dr. Rick demonstrating how this procedure is done:
Shoulder Adjustment Video
If you have a shoulder injury, its best to get it fixed as soon as possible. If left untreated the shoulder may start to diminish in its movement leading to a condition known as frozen shoulder syndrome. An extremely pain condition, aggressive measures must be taken to correct it.
Sometimes if a muscle tears bad enough and is confirmed on MRI, surgery is the only alternative. Unlike back surgery, which is extremely risky and runs very little chance of success, shoulder surgery patients tend to do a little better.
The first thing you should do is get the examination by a chiropractor and see if the problem can be fixed using conserative measures. Most of the time they can. That is the safest and wisest place to start.