Chiropractic for Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is a common complaint that patients present with to both primary care physicians and chiropractic practitioners. There are several underlying conditions that may cause discomfort in this area, many of which may be assisted by chiropractic treatment and manipulation. A proper diagnosis is important in order to determine what kind of treatment is indicated in each case.

Commonly observed causes of shoulder pain include:

    • Bursitis or tendinitis of the rotator cuff (inflammation of the shoulder joint, also called impingement syndrome, since the inflammation impinges on the ability of the shoulder to move fully)
    • Frozen shoulder (restriction of joint movement by the shoulder capsule, also known as adhesive capsulitis)
    • Rotator cuff tear (tearing of the shoulder tendons away from the bone). The rotator cuff refers to the group of four muscles and tendons that are responsible for moving the shoulder joint
    • Shoulder dislocation and shoulder instability (repeated dislocation, which may follow the initial occurrence as a result of the weakening and tearing of shoulder ligaments)
    • Synovitis (inflammation of the synovium that protects joint bones from rubbing together)
    • Calcific tendinitis (calcium deposits in the shoulder tendons)
    • Referred pain from the neck or elsewhere in the body
    • Arthritis (wearing away of shoulder cartilage)
    • Fractures


The precise nature of chiropractic treatment for shoulder pain depends on which of the above diagnoses is made by your practitioner, but will likely include some degree of manipulation to ensure correct spinal alignment (especially in the neck) and improved shoulder mobility and function. Additional measures such as heat and ice packs, stretching and strengthening exercises, anti-inflammatory medication, rest and cortisone injections may also be discussed. Furthermore, your chiropractor will want to look at your overall health, diet and lifestyle to see if any improvements can be made to assist with your healing process. Signs that you should consult a chiropractor about your shoulder include the following:

  • Pain when carrying objects
  • Shoulder pain at night and when resting
  • Being unable to raise your arm
  • Pain that persists beyond a few days and is unimproved by rest and painkillers
  • Warmth, redness and/or swelling of the shoulder and/or fever, which may indicate infection
  • Bruising around the shoulder area

Chiropractors are specialist health care professionals who deal with shoulder pain on a daily basis.

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