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Shoulder Pain

What causes shoulder pain?

A woman massages her left shoulder because of shoulder pain.
You may not think about your shoulders very often, or much, as you use them for remedial tasks. But once one or both begins to hurt, they’re hard to ignore. If you have shoulder pain, you begin to realize how much you use your shoulders in daily life. Simple things, like reaching high up for something, drying your hair, and driving a car, can suddenly become difficult and painful with shoulder pain.

Unfortunately, shoulder pain is very common, especially for older people. Pain can range from mild to severe, and can come on gradually or immediately depending on the cause. In this blog post, we’ll go over shoulder pain in more detail, symptoms, when to see a chiropractor, and treatment options.

Reasons for shoulder pain


Injuries from playing sports or car accidents can cause shoulder pain to immediately flare-up. This can include injuries to your rotator cuff, broken arm or collar bone, or shoulder muscle sprains and strains.


People who regularly use their shoulders, especially in overhand rotation, are at particularly high risk for shoulder pain. If your work requires you to use your shoulders a lot or you play certain sports that rely heavily on the shoulders, it may cause your shoulder pain. Sports that put you at risk of shoulder pain include tennis, volleyball, swimming, and baseball. Overusing your shoulder can cause wear down of joints and muscle strains, both of which can result in shoulder pain.


Osteoarthritis is a wear down of the cartilage between the joints that causes the bones to rub against one another, which can result in bone spurs. This can cause shoulder pain and reduce mobility in the shoulder.

What are common shoulder pain problems?

Frozen shoulder

Also called adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that prohibits the motion of your shoulder. This condition is caused by the connective tissue in the shoulder joint thickening and stiffening, preventing any shoulder movement and making it painful.

Rotator cuff tendonitis

Rotator cuff tendonitis is the inflammation and irritation of your shoulder joint. It results in shoulder pain and possibly stiffness too. This is a common problem for people who play sports with overhead rotation.

Rotator cuff bursitis

Bursae are small pockets of fluid in your shoulder that cushion and lubricate the rubbing motion of your muscles, tendons, and bones in your shoulder. Overuse can lead to swelling and inflammation in the bursae, causing bursitis.


Osteoarthritis, which is the wear down of cartilage, can happen due to overuse or simply wear and tear that happens slowly over time.

What are the symptoms of shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain can include a range of symptoms but generally, it includes pain, discomfort, and stiffness felt in the area around the shoulder. The pain can vary from case to case depending on the cause and the severity of the problem, but it is usually as one or more of the following symptoms:
A mild ache or a sharp pain that runs down the arm   
A sensation of redness or warmth in the shoulder
Pain in the arm, neck, or back 
Grinding, clicking, or popping when you move your arm 
Muscle weakness 
Muscle stiffness
Restricted movement
Limited range of motion 
Additional pain when you reach over your head
The symptoms of shoulder pain may be different for everybody, but regardless of the cause or how severe it is, it’s important to get it checked before the problem gets any worse.
Kinesio tape being applied for shoulder pain.

When to see a chiropractor for shoulder pain?

Whether you’re experiencing shoulder pain due to an accident, overuse, or an unknown cause, you should see a chiropractor, like one of the doctors at Accident Care Chiropractic, right away if you experience shoulder pain.

 Chiropractors specialize in treating bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joints, so they will be able to help manage the pain, improve your condition, and restore your mobility.
Regardless of the severity of the problem, a chiropractor will be able to help you with shoulder pain. If surgery is required our chiropractors will refer you to a recommended specialist and consult with them for optimal recovery.

Leaving your shoulder pain problem undiagnosed and untreated can lead to worse problems, including increased pain and a smaller range of motion.

Treatment of shoulder pain

The first thing your chiropractor will do if you experience shoulder pain is to diagnose the cause. Shoulder pain has many causes, so exams and imaging tests, including x-rays, may be the first step to treatment. After the cause is determined, the following treatments may be used:


Manual manipulation is a procedure that realigns the body back to its natural position. Improper alignment can put added stress and pressure on the shoulder and the nerves around the shoulder. Realignment from manipulation can reduce and remove stress and pressure and can result in immediate relief from pain and stiffness.


Chiropractic adjustments can be used along the neck, back, and spine. They properly align the vertebrae in your spine, which can help to reduce shoulder stiffness and pain.

Massage therapy

Massage therapy helps to increase blood flow and oxygen to the shoulder muscles while also stretching and relaxing the muscles. This can result in pain relief and help your muscles to heal themselves.

Graston technique

If your shoulder pain is a result of tearing and scarring, then this technique may be used. It uses a chiropractic tool to break up scar tissue and increase the range of motion in the shoulder.


Ultrasound treatment promotes blood flow and healing of the shoulder while reducing inflammation.

Myofascial release

This therapy relaxes tight muscles and releases the fascia over the muscle, resulting in pain relief.

Seek Relief from Shoulder Pain from Accident Care Chiropractic

If you’re experiencing shoulder pain due to a recent auto accident, overuse from work or sports, or just a gradual increase due to an unknown cause, the best step you can take is to visit a highly experienced chiropractor. At Accident Care Chiropractic, we can accurately diagnose and treat your shoulder pain, regardless of the cause.
Shoulder pain is a very common problem with many causes, and the best hope to restore your range of motion and reduce the pain in your shoulder is to visit a reputable, high-quality chiropractor, like the doctors at Accident Care Chiropractic.

Shoulder Pain Recovery & Therapy

Our service area extends to Portland, OR, Vancouver, Salem, Hillsboro, and beyond. So if you are experiencing shoulder pain and stiffness, reach out to us today to schedule a consultation!

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