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Chiropractic Care for Shoulder Pain - Treatment and Benefits

Published Date: 
September 9, 2022
A chiropractor is treating an elderly man for shoulder pain.

Chiropractors treat many conditions that cause shoulder pain, helping you regain range of motion and alleviate pain.

How a Chiropractor Can Help Those Suffering From Shoulder Pain

Chiropractic treatments focus on diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disorders, with an emphasis on the spine. It is considered a safe and effective treatment for many common conditions, including shoulder pain. It also improves range of motion and reduces recovery time from shoulder injuries.

Understanding the Shoulder Joint

The shoulder joint or shoulder girdle includes two main joints:

  • Acromioclavicular joint: where the collarbone and shoulder blade meet on the back
  • Glenohumeral joint: the main part of the shoulder, where the upper arm bone or humerus inserts into the shoulder socket or glenoid cavity

Surrounding these joints are muscles, tendons, and ligaments, all connected to allow for smooth movement. 

Within this collection of muscles and tendons is the rotator cuff, which is made up of four muscles, including:

  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres minor
  • Subscapularis

These muscles make it possible to raise your arms over your head and keep the humerus in place in the glenoid cavity.

Labrum lines the shoulder joint capsule. This soft tissue fits around the head of the humerus. There is also a bursa, a fluid-filled sac that serves as a cushion or shock absorber.

All of the nerves in your shoulder pass under the armpit in a system called the brachial plexus. The nerves assist with movement and signal pain in the shoulder, arms, and hands.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

Several things can cause shoulder pain, including:


Bursitis is a condition that affects the bursa or small fluid-filled sacs cushioning the tendons, bones, and muscles around your joints. Bursitis occurs when these sacs become inflamed.

Rotator Cuff Injury

A rotator cuff injury is a condition that affects the shoulder joint and the group of muscles and tendons that attach the shoulder blade to the upper arm bone. 

These injuries occur due to overuse, aging, or an accident. Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include pain, weakness, and limited range of motion. 

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a painful condition that can make it difficult to move your arm. The condition is also known as adhesive capsulitis.

In a frozen shoulder, the connective tissue around the shoulder joint becomes stiff and inflamed, limiting the movement of the shoulder and causing pain.

Frozen shoulders often develop slowly. It may be caused by an injury, such as a fall, or by repetitive use of the arm. 


Shoulder tendonitis is a condition in which shoulder tendons become inflamed. It can be caused by overuse, injury, or repetitive motions. The condition can be quite painful and make it difficult to move the arm. 

Dislocated Shoulder

A dislocated shoulder is a very serious injury that can cause immense pain and suffering. It occurs when the ball of the humerus or upper arm bone pops out of its socket in the shoulder blade. It can happen due to a fall, a blow to the shoulder, or other trauma.


A sprained shoulder occurs when one or more shoulder ligaments are stretched or torn. It can happen if you fall on your outstretched arm or if your arm is forced violently backward, as often happens in contact sports such as football or hockey. A sprained shoulder can also occur from a direct blow to the front of the shoulder, as might happen in a car accident. 

Symptoms of a sprained shoulder include pain, swelling, and bruising around the joint. You may also have difficulty moving your arm or may feel a "pop" when the injury occurs.

Muscle Strain

A shoulder muscle strain occurs when the muscles and tendons around the shoulder are overstretched or torn. It can happen due to a fall, lifting something heavy, or sudden impact. Symptoms of a shoulder muscle strain include pain, weakness, and stiffness.

Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve can occur anywhere in your body but is most common in the neck and shoulder. It happens when the nerves become compressed or irritated. Many things can cause compression, including herniated discs, bone spurs, or poor posture.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve in the shoulder can include pain, numbness, and tingling. People often describe the pain as a sharp, shooting sensation. It may be worse when you move your arm or neck. You may also have weakness in the affected arm or hand.

Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is when the shoulder joint cannot move as freely as it should. It can be due to several reasons, including inflammation or damage to the tendons and muscles around the shoulder or a build-up of bone spurs around the joint. Shoulder impingement can be a painful condition and can make it difficult to move the arm.

How Do Chiropractors Care for Shoulder Pain?

Chiropractors use a variety of different treatments to help with shoulder pain. For example:


One of the most common ways chiropractors treat shoulder pain is by adjusting the spinal alignment, taking the pressure off the nerves and muscles. Adjustments can also help to improve range of motion and reduce inflammation.

Myofascial Release

Myofascial release focuses on releasing the myofascial tissue, which is the connective tissue that surrounds and supports the muscles. This type of treatment can be beneficial for those who suffer from conditions such as chronic pain, migraines, and muscle tension.

Targeted Stretching and Strengthening

A common cause of shoulder pain is tightness and weakness in the muscles that support the shoulder joint. Chiropractors often use targeted stretching and strengthening exercises to help ease shoulder pain by improving the function of these muscles. Stretching lengthens and loosens the muscles around the shoulder joint, which helps ease pain.

Graston Technique

The Graston Technique is a form of manual therapy that uses special instruments to massage and stretch the muscles and connective tissues. It can help relieve pain, improve range of motion, and reduce inflammation. The Graston Technique is used to treat conditions such as tendonitis, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome and plantar fasciitis.


Chiropractors use ultrasound to help relieve pain and improve joint function. Ultrasound waves can penetrate deep into the tissue, providing heat that helps to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation. It can help to relieve pain and improve range of motion. Ultrasound is also believed to help stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving chemicals.

Electronic Stimulation

Chiropractors often use electrical stimulation to help relieve pain and promote healing. Electrical stimulation is a form of therapy that uses low-voltage electrical currents to stimulate the body’s nervous system. It works by releasing endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals. Electrical stimulation may also help increase blood flow and reduce inflammation.

Is Chiropractic Care for Shoulder Pain Safe?


Chiropractic care is non-invasive and effective for treating different causes of shoulder pain.

Like all medical treatments, there are risks associated with chiropractic care, but these risks are mild, and people rarely experience negative side effects.

Why You Should See a Chiropractor for Shoulder Pain

Chiropractic treatment provides many benefits for dealing with shoulder problems, including:

  • Restore range of motion
  • Reduce inflammation, pain, and discomfort
  • Improve strength in the shoulder
  • Prevent long-term chronic shoulder pain 


Chiropractic treatment is one of the most effective shoulder pain treatment options available. It’s safe, non-invasive, and provides an alternative for people who want to avoid surgery or pharmaceutical treatment for shoulder pain relief.

Dr. Darren Faherty D.C.

In 2004, Dr. Darren Faherty graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from UWEC - University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Dr. Darren continued education at the highly esteemed University of Western States (formerly Western States Chiropractic College) where he obtained his chiropractic degree in 2007. He has been helping people recover from injuries and return to their normal lifestyles ever since.

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