Dr. Douglass Toth
1223 College Ave, Suite 100
Santa Rosa, CA

Shoulder Pain

The shoulder and its wide range of motion involves three main joints, the glenohumeral joint, the acromioclavicular joint and the scapulothoracic joint (a pseudo joint where the scapula glides on the ribs next to the spine in the mid back).  Because of the complex nature of these three joints the shoulder is vulnerable to a wide range of injuries.   There are bursae, cartilage, many tendons and muscles, a large joint capsule, and a large bundle of nerves and blood vessels called the brachial plexus that pass around the glenohumeral joint.

Common conditions related to the shoulder are:

Tight Shoulders

  • Torn rotator cuff
  • Bursitis
  • Frozen shoulder syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • A/C Separation
  • Arthritis

Traumatic injury mostly results in torn muscles, damaged cartilage, fracture, dislocation, or damaged brachial plexus where some pulling of the arm can tear the nerves coming from the spine.   Repetitive strain from computer work, lifting or carrying can generate a chronic muscle tension problem that interferes with work, sleep or other important activities with family and personal hobbies.  Inflammation around the shoulder usually involves the joint capsule, the busrsa and the tendons that attach to the humerus and scapula.


Treatment will involve an assessment of the movement and structure of the shoulder using orthopedic and neurological tests, followed by chiropractic adjustments some trigger point therapy and self care instructions.  Proper stretching and strengthening and home therapies are often prescribed to resolve the complaint as well. If necessary x-rays or MRI can be used to reach a more conclusive diagnosis if preliminary assessments are insufficient.

Contact Dr. Douglass Toth’s office by phone at 707-526-1390 or via email to schedule an appointment and ease any soreness you may be feeling due to tight shoulder muscles today.


What Causes Shoulder Pain?

Common causes of shoulder pain include:

  • Arthritis
  • Broken arm or shoulder
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Heart attack
  • Bone spurs
  • Torn cartilage and rotator cuff
  • Swollen tendons

How is Shoulder Pain Treated?

Depending on the cause and severity of your shoulder pain, your doctor can recommend occupational or physical therapy, a sling or shoulder immobilizer, or surgery.

Many doctors prescribe NSAIDs or corticosteroids for mild to moderate acute pain. Minor shoulder pain can be treated at home by ice or heat. Putting ice directly on your skin can lead to frostbite. Instead, use an ice bag. In many cases, resting for short periods can alleviate pain.


How Can I Prevent Shoulder Pain?

Here are some tips to prevent shoulder pain:

  • If you experience shoulder pain when performing an activity, stop performing it for some time
  • Try shoulder exercises that stretch and strengthen muscles and rotator-cuff tendons
  • To avoid overworking your shoulder, cross-train
  • Always warm up before exercising

Can a Chiropractor Help With Shoulder Pain?

Yes. Your chiropractor will order X-rays and other tests to get to the root cause of the problem. They will ask you some questions and may conduct some physical tests. Based on their findings, the professional will create a treatment plan.

Here are some ways in which a chiropractor can help relieve shoulder pain:

  • The professional will make sure the clavicle, shoulder, and scapula are properly aligned
  • Your chiropractor will use myofascial therapy to release the fascia and reduce tension
  • The professional will use different techniques and equipment to decrease inflammation, increase blood flow, and break up scar tissues

What is a Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. The condition usually occurs in individuals who have kept their arm immobilized for a long period.

Frozen shoulder involves pain that develops gradually. It can take a very long time (sometimes several months) to heal. Many doctors recommend stretching exercises for pain relief. When pain persists, doctors inject corticosteroids and numbing medication into the patient’s joint capsule. If nothing works, doctors recommend surgery to loosen the joint capsule.