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Chiropractic Treatment for Shoulder Pain

Our shoulders consist of an interlocking network of soft tissues, tendons, muscles and bones, which allows us to perform a wide range of movements. From reaching behind our back to stretching out to throw a pitch, our shoulders are involved in just about every movement in our day-to-day lives.

Age or injury, however, can get in the way of our shoulders’ otherwise normal, mobility and function. Three of the most common problems affecting our shoulders arise from the following: Osteoarthritis, Sports or Bodybuilding Injuries (including CrossFit Injuries) and Tendinitis.

Arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis)

Arthritis is an inflammatory and/or degenerative condition that generally affects the major joints, including the shoulders. Its primary characteristics include pain, stiffness and swelling, resulting in loss of mobility and function of the involved joint(s).

Patients suffering from osteoarthritis in the shoulders may also experience the sensation of tightness in the soft tissues and tendons surrounding the joint. This contributes to the restriction of movement, in addition to the discomfort.


When the shoulder joints are exposed to unusual or repeated stress forces, pain, instability, swelling and stiffness can often result. Dislocation is more common in people who have fallen, particularly onto an outstretched arm. Instability of the shoulder joint(s) usually results from overuse and is more commonly observed in athletes engaged in such sports as swimming, baseball, football, basketball and contact sports like boxing and wrestling.

Recurring injuries may cause weakness as well as pain as one moves the arms. Some patients may also experience the sensation of a “dead arm” in which the arm and shoulder feel strangely unresponsive or "out of synch" with regard to normal position or normal movement patterns. 


Over the years, our shoulders may incur wear and tear, due to repetitive microtrauma and/or the aging process. One of the first components that can suffer damage is the tendon— a dense cord or band of fibrous connective issue that anchors a muscle to bone. When muscles contract the attached bones move, along with their respective joints.

Overuse of the shoulders is one of the most common causes of tendinitis. This is often seen in sports-related activities like ball throwing or swimming.

As stated above, age and degenerative diseases are two known causes of chronic or recurring tendinitis. The deterioration of the tendons can cause significant tearing or splitting, leading to pain or discomfort, stiffness and swelling. This condition has been given such names as "tendon degeneration", "tendinopathy", or "tendinosis". 

Other Causes of Shoulder Pain or Immobility

The "rotator cuff" is a collective term referring to four muscles that control movement relative to their respective anchoring points on the shoulder blade and upper arm.  Injuries or disorders involving the rotator cuff usually result in pain, limited mobility or some element of discomfort. Non-traumatic rotator cuff injuries (injuries that are not not the result of a sudden, instant trauma) are now believed to have their origin with alterations from normal in the postural orientation of the shoulder blades. This sets the stage for repetitive movements or repetitive stress forces to produce injury or structural disease to the muscles/tendons comprising the rotator cuff.

The shoulder joint is considered a 'ball and socket' joint. However, the 'socket' that is formed in the shoulder blade is quite shallow and small, covering, at most, only a third of the 'ball' formed at the upper end of the upper arm bone. The socket is deepened by a fibrocartilaginous ring that encircles the socket and is attached to its rim. This ring is called the "glenoid labrum." When this cartilage is torn, it is called a "labral tear." Labral tears may result from instant injury, strong or repetitive forces, or as part of the aging process. "SLAP Tears" are the most common labrum tears and are associated with strong or repeated stress forces applied by the bicep muscle-tendon. Like rotator cuff injuries, non-traumatic labrum tears are now believed to begin with altered postural /spatial orientation of the shoulder blade(s) and superimposed chronic stress forces. 

Bursitis, on the other hand, results from the swelling or inflammation of bursae. Bursae are fluid filled sacs that are located in strategic positions near joints. Bursae secrete lubricating fluid designed to reduce friction between the gliding soft tissues near joints. "Subacromial bursitis" is the most common form of bursitis involving the shoulder and usually results from repetitive compression/rubbing by adjacent structural components.

Adhesive capsulitis, more commonly known as “frozen shoulder” is a curious condition associated with scar tissue infiltration ("adhesions") within the "capsule" surrounding the ball and socket joint. It usually presents itself as a spontaneous and extremely painful inability to lift the arm up and away from the side. It can occur after a previous shoulder injury or surgery. It more commonly occurs in people over 40, particularly women. It is sometimes linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Why ignore the symptoms? If you or a loved one is suffering from shoulder pain, swelling or inflammation, get an accurate diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.

At Performance Sport Care, Dr. Douglas Cancel and team provide personalized care and problem focused treatment to alleviate the pain and restore function and mobility in your shoulder joints. We serve the residents of Walnut Creek, CA, and the nearby communities of Concord, Pleasant Hill, Danville and Lafayette.

Discover advanced, effective treatment for shoulder pain at Performance Sport Care. Feel free to contact us at (925) 945-1155 or use our Request an Appointment form to schedule your consultation.

Our Services

Sports Injury

When engaging in any sports activity, it is important to stay healthy and pain-free so you can perform at your best. But with injuries, you may become limited in your flexibility, mobility and function. Maximize your participation in sports activities with Dr. Douglas Cancel’s help.

Shoulder Injury

Our shoulders consist of an interlocking network of soft tissues, tendons, muscles and bones, which allows us to perform a wide range of motion. From reaching our back to stretching out to throw a pitch, our shoulders are involved every step of the way in our day-to-day life.

Spine & Knee Injury

Our spine and knees are made of complex system of bones and muscles, which, unfortunately, are prone to problems. In the case of knee disorders, one of its most common causes is osteoarthritis. This degenerative disease affects the muscles, ligaments and tendons that surround the joints. On the other hand, spine problems usually involve herniated or slipped discs, which cause radiating pain

Leg & Hip Injury

Musculoskeletal problems in the hips and legs are triggered by inflammation of the joints. When this happens, walking, running or bearing weight on the affected hip/s can be very difficult to do. In many instances, this condition is characterized with pain, restricted mobility and limited function.