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Shoulder Pain & Rotator Cuff Injuries

We see many patients who suffer with shoulder pain. Sometimes it’s minor discomfort and other times it is debilitating pain deep within the shoulder, preventing the patient from moving their arm.

Whether your shoulder pain is mild, moderate or severe it may be related to an impingement of the rotator cuff.

Rotator cuff” is the name given collectively to a group of four small muscles that control the movements of the shoulder. These four muscles each have their own specific function for moving the shoulder in various directions; however, they also work collaboratively as one unit to support and stabilize the shoulder as you move your arm upward and overhead. When one or more of the rotator cuff muscles becomes impinged or compromised, it alters the combined function of these four muscles. This causes the shoulder to become weak and unstable.


A common symptom related to rotator cuff impingement is the inability to raise your arm overhead without pain. Often times a person may experience a sharp pain in the shoulder when they attempt to do simple activities such as flipping a light switch or when reaching outward away from their body to grasp a small object.


1. Most rotator cuff tears are partial (or minor) tears, even though the pain may be severe.
2. Rotator cuff injuries can usually be treated successfully without surgery.
3. Chiropractic adjustments to the shoulder can greatly improve shoulder alignment and function, allowing rotator cuff injuries to heal naturally.

You may be wondering how a chiropractic adjustment to the shoulder could possibly help a rotator cuff injury heal faster. The best way to explain this is to take a closer look at why most rotator cuff injuries occur in the first place. The primary muscle that becomes impinged with most rotator cuff injuries is the supraspinatus. This tiny muscle runs across the top of the shoulder blade and passes through a small space at the tip of the shoulder near where it connects to the humerus (upper arm bone).

Due to repetitive activities using your shoulder and arm, or from working with your arms raised overhead, the shoulder blade and humerus can become misaligned. When those two bones lose their healthy alignment it impinges upon the rotator cuff tendon that passes between them. This causes great stress and irritation on the tendon of the supraspinatus muscle and eventually it may tear.

Chiropractic adjustments to the shoulder will improve its alignment and function. This will help to remove tension and stress from the impinged supraspinatus tendon.  Patients with shoulder pain respond favorably to chiropractic adjustments to the scapula and humerus. Of course it will be important to strengthen the shoulder muscles using specific exercises; however, the shoulder condition will respond best if the joints are first realigned prior to beginning the strengthening process.


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Dr. Russ Birdsall, D.C
11154 Huron St. Suite 106, Northglenn, CO 80234
Chiropractor Northglenn CO

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