Whether you’re in pain suffering from a post-dislocated shoulder because of a sports injury or some form of tendinitis that’s affecting the shoulder and neck area, shoulder pain can make it difficult to perform everyday activities that are important for work, school, and living a normal life. No matter the cause of your pain, among the most effective treatment options for shoulder pain is chiropractic care. This is a type of conservative care that’s completely non-invasive yet is still able to provide a substantial amount of relief from pain. While you’re considering all of your treatment options, make sure that you know what chiropractic treatment is and the types of benefits that it can provide.
Types of Shoulder Pain and Injuries
While the shoulder is a tough and durable area of the body, it’s also prone to being injured because of how often it’s used for all kinds of different activities. Certain conditions and diseases can also lead to the development of shoulder pain. While small amounts of shoulder pain are easy to handle without treatment as you wait for the pain to dissipate, moderate to severe pain can take much longer to go away on its own. It’s also possible to injure the area further if you attempt to go about your life without getting rid of some of the pain.
A few of the more common types of shoulder pain include tendinitis, the inflammation of the bursae in your shoulder, a dislocated shoulder, a frozen shoulder, a rotator cuff injury, and various sprains and strains. A loose or unstable joint in the shoulder may also cause you to experience pain. Although less common than hip and knee arthritis, it’s possible for a case of arthritis to adversely affect the shoulder, which usually leads to dull and aching pain that won’t go away until treated.
The frozen shoulder condition occurs as the result of the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint contracting or becoming what’s referred to as adhesive capsulitis, which is a tightening and inflammation of the shoulder capsule. This particular condition occurs because of an acute injury or chronic problem that was never addressed beforehand or was treated improperly. This form of treatment allows you to avoid more invasive options such as surgery.
What Is Chiropractic Care?
If you’ve never obtained chiropractic care before, this treatment is designed to provide you with non-invasive and alternative solutions that can relieve your pain and reduce inflammation. If the pain is being caused by an injured joint or a post-dislocated bone, chiropractic care can oftentimes address these issues without requiring you to obtain surgery. Most of the treatments provided with chiropractic care take the kinetic chain into account, the upper portion of which consists of the shoulder blades, shoulder joint, mid back, and neck. An injury or dysfunction in any of these areas can lead to the development of pain in any other location of the kinetic chain, such as the back or neck. The pain that you experience in your shoulder or shoulder girdle can stem from the joints below, above, or on the opposite side of the affected area.
Chiropractic care uses a variety of treatment options to reduce this pain, which may include the application of heat and ice, muscle relaxation techniques, electronic stimulation, exercises, and dietary supplements if needed. Many of the injuries and conditions that can cause shoulder pain are able to be reduced in severity or healed altogether with chiropractic treatment. By addressing the source of your shoulder pain, this pain should be reduced or eliminated completely during chiropractic care. The application of this treatment might be able to relieve pain you never thought could be treated. Even chronic injuries can be addressed in a manner that helps to reduce the amount of pain the affected individual goes through.
When to Seek Chiropractic Treatment
The presence of shoulder pain may not indicate that there’s anything wrong with you. However, leaving this pain untreated can eventually cause the problem to become a chronic or recurrent issue. In general, it’s recommended that you seek chiropractic treatment as early as possible after you’ve first noticed that you’re suffering from shoulder pain. Since the shoulder pain treatment is non-invasive, there’s no harm in obtaining this type of treatment. If you’re having difficulties determining whether your pain is severe enough to warrant chiropractic care, there are some signs that can help with this decision.
If your shoulder pain continues to bother you for more than a few days and shows no signs of getting better, it’s recommended that you at least schedule a consultation with a chiropractor. You also want to seek this type of care if you’ve been suffering from recurrent shoulder pain over the years. Even if the pain goes away on its own every time it occurs, it’s possible that the root cause of the pain can be treated, which may be able to stop the pain from recurring in the future.
If you’re having problems carrying different objects in your arm or find that there’s a substantial amount of swelling along your upper arm and shoulder, you’ll want to get the problem treated immediately. You should also look out for any signs that you’ve developed an infection in the area, the primary of which include redness, fever, swelling, and warmth. Infections can worsen and spread, which is why early treatment can be very beneficial.
How Chiropractic Treatment Can Relieve Your Shoulder Pain
Before any chiropractic treatment begins, the cause of your shoulder pain will be diagnosed to determine what the exact treatment plan should be. Many types of shoulder pain occur because of damage to the muscles or joints in the vicinity of the shoulder, all of which can be treated with chiropractic care. The pain that you’re experiencing may originate along your cervical spine or in the triceps muscle that’s found in your upper arm. It’s also possible that an injury to the subscapularis muscle below your shoulder blade has brought about the pain that you’re going through.
Because your mid back, neck, and shoulder joint are all part of a similar kinetic chain in your body, issues that stem from the dysfunction of one or more of these areas can cause additional problems and injuries around your neck or shoulder that lead to shoulder pain. If the chiropractor on hand is having issues with identifying the cause of your pain, an x-ray, MRI, or similar type of imaging scan may be provided to help with the diagnosis. Once a complete and thorough diagnosis has been made, a treatment plan will be created that’s specific to your exact needs. Your chiropractor will likely provide you with some rehabilitation exercises and stretches that you can perform to help relieve your pain. Stretching the tendons and muscles can be highly effective at reducing the amount of pain and inflammation that you’re experiencing. The same is true with rehabilitation exercises.
Health Benefits Provided By Chiropractic Care
Even though chiropractic care is a non-invasive treatment, this type of treatment has proven to be very effective at providing a wide range of benefits relating to many injuries around the shoulder and within the shoulder girdle. The reduction of pain and discomfort is the most obvious benefit that will invariably occur if you’re found to be a good candidate for chiropractic care.
By directly addressing the cause of the pain, you should begin to experience some pain relief even after a single treatment session. Decreased inflammation should also occur. Many injuries to the shoulder result in swelling and inflammation, the presence of which typically causes pain to worsen. The reduction of swelling in your shoulder should lessen your discomfort. Other health benefits to look forward to include improved flexibility, enhanced range of motion, and better muscle tone and strength in the treated area.
The treatment of sciatica with standard chiropractic techniques has become increasingly common over the last two decades. In fact, the Doctors of Chiropractic Medicine (DC) officially recognizes sciatica as a fully treatable ailment that falls under the umbrella of chiropractic medicine. In the article below we’ll walk you through what sciatica is and how sciatica is treated through chiropractic medicine. We’ll also go into the specifics on treatment techniques and explain how they are able to relieve the severe pain caused by this health ailment.
What is Sciatica?
For those of you that are unfamiliar with sciatica, it is a type of severe pain that occurs along the full route of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve travels from the lower back and runs all the way down through the hips, across the buttocks, and down into each leg. There is a sciatic nerve that runs down both the right and left leg, branching out from the spinal cord. Typically, the pain caused by sciatica only affects the left or right side of the body, with it rarely affecting both sides simultaneously.
The most common underlying cause of sciatica is a herniated disk, spinal stenosis or narrowing of the spine, or bone spurs. Any of these underlying issues causes the sciatic nerve to become inflamed, which in turn causes the primary symptoms of sciatica, which are pain and numbness in one leg.
Despite the fact that back pain and other symptoms of sciatica can be extremely severe, the ailment is primarily treated by non-surgical means. A standard sciatica treatment plan undertaken by a trained and licensed chiropractor can usually cure or drastically reduce all sciatica symptoms without so much as a needle or any medication ever being administered. In cases where sciatica requires surgery, the people afflicted with the ailment are usually suffering some the most extreme symptoms that the ailment causes, which are bladder incontinence, extreme bowel changes, and leg weakness severe enough to cause muscle atrophy.
A More In-depth Look at The Symptoms of Sciatica
As we mentioned above, the trademark symptom of sciatica is best described as a severe pain that travels from the lumbar area of the spine, over the buttocks, and down either the right or left leg. The pain typically radiates along the entire nerve path, rather than only being present in certain sections of the sciatic nerve. This pain is known to reach as far down into the leg as the lower calf muscle.
The level of pain that sciatica sufferers experience can be wide-ranging. Some people only experience a very light or mild pain sensation, while other sciatica sufferers experience pain so server that it is hard to even walk. The pain isn’t always sharp like typical nerve pain, instead, it can sometimes feel like a pulsating burning sensation mixed with bouts of numbness that come and go. Some sciatica sufferers have even described the pain as feeling like a strong jolt of electricity that a person would typically feel while being electrocuted. All of the symptoms are known to worsen from remaining seated or sedentary for too long. The sciatica pain can also be triggered by coughing, sneezing, or other sudden movements of the body.
Receiving a Proper Diagnosis of Sciatica is Crucial
Due to the fact that sciatica can be caused by other systemic health issues, some of them quite severe, it is extremely important that the issue is properly diagnosed. If a doctor or chiropractor has a patient experiencing symptoms that they believe are sciatica, then typically the first step will be to identify the primary underlying cause. Pinpointing the cause usually involves taking a very close look at the long term medical history of the patient. Other extensive neurological and physical examinations are also undertaken.
The primary diagnostic tests used to identify sciatica are CT scans, x-rays, MRIs, and other electrodiagnostic tests that can analyze the electromyography or nerve conduction velocity. These diagnostic tests are usually accurate enough to pinpoint the exact cause of sciatica, helping doctors and chiropractors in formulating an effective treatment strategy to cure the ailment.
Chiropractic Treatment of Sciatica
Unlike many forms of standard medicine, including surgical intervention, chiropractic remedies are non-invasive, all-natural, drug-free, and seek to assist the body in healing itself. Any form of restricted spinal movement will usually lead to severe pain, nerve inflammation, and decreased motor movement function. Treating the root cause of such movement restrictions are usually the primary focal point of sciatica chiropractic treatment strategies.
The type of chiropractic-driven therapy that a sciatica patient will receive depends completely on what the underlying cause of the ailment is. The treatment plans will usually involve hot and cold therapies, ultrasound treatment, minor and major spinal column adjustments or manipulation, and TENS. In the following article section, we’ll take a much closer look at each of these highly effective treatment options.
The 4 Primary Sciatica Chiropractic Treatment Options
1. Ultrasound – This high tech treatment option involves the use of sound waves that form a very gentle heat that is able to deeply penetrate the body’s tissues. Similar to the effects of hot and cold therapy, ultrasound treatments rapidly increase blood circulation to a specific area, which in turn causes an increased immune response. Ultrasound therapy is able to target the specific route of the sciatic nerve which will almost immediately reduce nerve inflammation, swelling, back and leg stiffness, numbness, and any muscle spasms caused by the ailment. Each year the technology driving ultrasound treatments gets more advanced, more pin-point accurate, and much more effective.
2. TENS – Known officially as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, a TENS unit is a very small battery powered machine that is able to stimulate muscles throughout the body. It’s a portable device, so sciatica sufferers are able to take the unit home and continue their TENS treatments at their convenience. This therapy involves placing a series of small electrodes to the effected sciatic pathway and then sending a small electrical impulse through the electrodes and into the muscle tissue. This causes the muscles to slightly contract, stimulating blood blow to the area which can dramatically reduce sciatica-caused spine and leg stiffness, as well as dramatically increase spinal and leg mobility. This is a go-to therapy for most chiropractors treating sciatica.
3. Hot and Cold Therapy – This therapy option seeks to apply hot and cold sensations to the effected sciatica nerve path. When a portion of the body experiences rapid warming and cooling, this causes the blood vessels in that area to quickly dilate. This dilation causes increased blood flow to the area and allows the body to heal and reduce inflammation in the afflicted area much more quickly through a heightened immune response. Hot and cold treatments usually involve ice and hot packs, hot and cold baths or immersion, cryotherapy, and massages.
4. Spinal Adjustments or Manipulation – Arguably the most important and effective way of treating the primary underlying cause of sciatica, spinal adjustments and manipulation can realign the spinal column and take pressure off of compressed nerves. If a disk in the spine is herniated, then this spinal manipulation treatment can correct that issue as well. The primary underlying cause of sciatica is rooted in problems in and around the lumbar area of the spine. Spinal manipulation along with other secondary chiropractic treatments can fully correct the root cause or causes of sciatica and fully cure the ailment.
Once the spinal issues are resolved, typically in only several weeks, the remaining chiropractic treatments typically involve reducing the inflammation as quickly as possible to cure the sciatica symptoms.
How Long Will It Take To Get Better?
Since every injury or source of pain is different, this is probably the most difficult one to answer. Everyone’s body is different, and the extent of the damage can vary greatly, so there is no ‘one answer fits all’ for this one. That being said, there are some key considerations that will help your doctor provide a reasonable assessment estimated recovery timeline. These include, but are not limited to— the severity of the injury, how long you’ve had the pain, how consistent you will be with regular sessions and doing your “homework”. Some change is usually seen within the first few sessions. As we said before, no 2 patients are the same so their results will also vary, but generally, patients experience significant improvement in about a month’s time from physical therapy.
Definitely not. Physical therapy is beneficial for many beyond just recovery from an injury or post-surgery. A trained and skilled Physical Therapist can evaluate and treat individuals for existing musculoskeletal conditions and actually identify —then treat—potential problems before they have any negative impact on a person’s daily activity. Physical therapists are movement specialists, so if a person is experiencing reduced ability to do activities or perform certain tasks they used to do, then physical therapy is a great option to restore comfortable movement. Physical Therapy can often help someone avoid surgery, or in cases where surgery is really necessary, there are things a Physical Therapist can do with a person prior to the surgery to help them strengthen the body and proactively prepare for ways to compensate when the surgery is done and the patient is beginning their recovery.
Does Physical Therapy Hurt?
True, many new patients beginning physical therapy are already in pain. However, the famous saying “no pain, no gain” is certainly not the mantra of your physical therapist. There may also be a fine line between the pain from the injury, mild pain or discomfort when performing some new exercises, and soreness after the sessions.
There’s also good pain and bad pain. Bad pain can be dangerous and should not be felt during treatments. Good pain—the pain that is a natural outcome of pushing the body to a new level—is expected and not dangerous.
Any type of serious pain felt when working with a properly trained Physical Therapist will be monitored and based on what the findings are, new exercises or modalities will be utilized to help the patient find a comfortable way to work the area without causing further pain or worse, causing injury.
The bottom line is that working with a skilled Physical Therapist is hard work, and presents plenty of challenge for even those patients who are in great physical shape. So, count on some challenge and some discomfort, if the pain is beyond that, tell your PT immediately so adjustments can be made.
Can I Get Better With Rest and Meds Instead?
Chicken soup and bed rest are tried and true roads to recovery for the common cold or flu. Taking a few NSAIDs will take the edge off and provide temporary relief, along with some restored mobility, to the source of pain. However, a musculoskeletal injury does require a more comprehensive recovery plan beyond soup and sleep.
Many people who experience chronic pain or suffered a recent injury are under the impression that rest is the best way to heal. What they don’t realize is extended time remaining immobile and ‘resting’ the injured area of the body can actually cause muscle stiffness, loss of flexibility and normal range of motion—all of which could lead to delayed recovery or worse, further injury to the body. This is why varied types of appropriate movement therapy are recommended when it comes to injury recovery.