The shoulder joint is by far one of the most complex joints in the entire human body. Of all the joints in the body, the shoulder joint is the most mobile. This unique quality of movement allows for great flexibility, however it also puts the shoulder at great risk of injury.
Like the hip, the shoulder is a ball and socket joint. The hip joint depends on both its strong ligaments and large ring of bone for function and stability. The shoulder however, primarily uses its musculature, mostly your rotator cuff and deltoid muscles, for support and motion. It relies on your rotator cuff and deltoid muscles.
Shoulder Pain Starts in the Neck
Ultimately, it is the interconnection of your shoulder and neck that is responsible for the health of your shoulder. It is within your cervical spine that the nerves that control and coordinate the function and stability of your shoulder and arm musculature originate. In our office, as part of an overall and complete program of care, we work to strengthen not only the area that hurts, but also the core, the central place where the nerves that control that body part originate. In this case your shoulder, neck and possibly your upper to middle back
Many times shoulder pain is a referred pain. A referred pain means that the dysfunction and pain being experienced actually originates elsewhere in the body. Many times it is a dysfunction of the neck that refers, or even creates the dysfunction that is being experienced in the shoulder.
The most common of these dysfunctions is Forward Head Posture (FHP).
The most common dysfunction in the body that refers pain and oftentimes creates weakness in the shoulder occurs in the neck. The most common neck issue that leads to weakness and eventual pain in the shoulder or arm is Forward Head Posture (FHP).
FHP Starts With Subluxation
Since we live in a forward facing world, the repetitive use of computers, smart phones, TV, tablets, and even backpacks, have forced the body to adapt to a forward head posture.
According to research, for every inch your head moves forward, it gains 10 pounds in weight as far as your upper back and neck muscles are concerned. This causes the neck’s natural forward curve to diminish because the muscles have to work that much harder to keep your head/chin from dropping onto your chest. The excess weight pulls the entire spine out of alignment and causes vertebral subluxation, or misaligned spine bones.
The negative effects of this most common postural problem are becoming more evident in terms of health. The weight of the head creates tension in the joints of the cervical spine and puts mechanical stress on the shoulder girdle. Over time, the joints are subjected to excess wear and tear which may result in osteoarthritis of the shoulders and neck.
A vertebral subluxation is a misaligned spinal bone, and that’s where Forward Head Posture often begins. The subluxation causes the neck’s natural forward curve to diminish, which results in the head being carried in front of the shoulders. The weight of the head creates tension in the joints of the cervical spine and places mechanical stress on the shoulder girdle. Over time, the joints are subjected to excessive wear and tear, which may result in osteoarthritis of the shoulders and neck.
The Relationship Between Nerve Function and Shoulder Pain
The neck has 7 spinal bones, or vertebrae. Nerves branch off from the spinal cord through small openings between the vertebrae, then travel across the shoulder before moving down the arm. Vertebral subluxations (misalignments of spinal bones) put pressure on the nerves that control the function of the rotator cuff muscles. Such “pinched” nerves may result in shoulder pain and often cause numbness or pain in the arm or hand.
Torn Rotator Cuffs and Dislocated Shoulders
Vertebral subluxations prevent nervous system communication to the shoulders, and muscle regulation is altered. An imbalance begins. Some of the muscles in the shoulder girdle are overused, and others are underused. A poorly functioning shoulder stands a greater chance of enduring rotator cuff tears and joint dislocations.
Friction Creates Shoulder Bursitis
Uneven use of the muscles in the shoulder girdle often leads to friction in the joint. This results in bursitis, which is an inflammation of the “bursa,” the small sac of synovial fluid that exists to keep the joint gliding smoothly. Medical doctors often treat bursitis by injecting steroids into the bursa, but this only weakens the soft tissues of the rotator cuff. Thus traditional treatment actually makes the problem worse, while only offering temporary pain relief.
Shoulder Pain Relieved by Chiropractic Care
The most effective way to relieve shoulder pain is to eliminate the nervous system interference that started the problem. Dr. Jeffrey Ptak, DC, MA, has almost 30 years of experience caring for patients with shoulder pain. Dr. Jeff has the skill to correct the underlying subluxations that cause bursitis, clearing the way for the body to heal naturally. If you suffer from shoulder pain, call Dr. Jeff at (310) 473-7991 and schedule a consultation at his Santa Monica office today.