Shoulder Pain: How to Find Relief

Shoulder pain is a common issue which troubles millions of people every year. While shoulder pain can affect anyone, we often tend to think that it’s more of an issue for those who are especially active. Perhaps this is true – after all, those involved in sports and fitness do tend to ask more of their shoulders than those of us who live a more sedentary life – but that does not mean that shoulder pain can’t strike when you least expect it!


Why are shoulder injuries common?

Shoulder injuries are common, even in those who don’t put much strain on them, simply because the most unstable and moveable joint in your body. If you think about it for a moment – the shoulder is responsible for a wider range of motion in a larger range of directions than any other in your body. Its wide range of motion is facilitated by four primary muscles and their tendons, which together are called the rotator cuff – you’ve probably heard this term used in conjunction with the word “injury”!


Types of shoulder issue

It’s normal for a shoulder injury to comprise multiple aspects – this is why a sports therapy appointment is often a good way to start in on dealing with one – the most important step is to understand what’s really going on. The most common source of pain in the shoulder are the tendons, although ligament damage is another issue that comes up regularly.

Some of the different conditions which can affect the tendons alone include:

  • Bursitis – If the sac of fluid that cushions your shoulder becomes swollen and painful as a result of repetitive motion, you may have bursitis. Anyone who performs a repetitive motion with their shoulder is at risk here.
  • Tendonitis – If a tendon in your shoulder becomes inflamed, you may have tendonitis. Tendonitis can also arise as a secondary complaint as a result of the body trying to compensate for another injury – quite possibly in the upper back.
  • Shoulder impingement – Is common in sportspeople, but also in those in physical trades. If a tendon gets pinched between or under the bones of your shoulder, it can result in what we call shoulder impingement. Lifting overhead repetitively can cause impingement, and you may experience swelling and pain.
  • Rotator cuff tear – If a tendon in your shoulder becomes torn you have, well, a rotator cuff tear! Your rotator cuff can become damaged due to overuse, injury, or age, and tears usually cause pain when lifting and may be accompanied by a popping sound. These injuries are more common in sportspeople, especially those which require explosive motion or heavy weight-bearing – however they can also occur when another injury is ignored and you try to just “push through”.

How to treat a shoulder injury

The first thing to remember (as a preventative measure) is that your shoulder and spine work together.  While it may seem like they are two completely different and independent areas of the body, research has shown that postural abnormalities can play a significant role in your likelihood of developing shoulder pain.  Maintaining a full range of motion in your shoulder and in the spinal joints of your neck and mid-back can help reduce your chances of experiencing shoulder pain in the first place[1] – and if you’re experiencing any mild shoulder pain It’s worth a chiropractic checkup, not necessarily for the shoulder itself, but to make sure there are no underlying issues with the posture or spine.

Treating shoulder injuries directly starts with a diagnosis – a sports therapy appointment is ideal for this since sports therapists are experts at recognising these kinds of shoulder issues. While very severe tears may require surgery, the vast majority of cases can be managed with careful therapy.

One critical thing to note is that if your shoulder becomes inflamed or an impingement occurs, you may make the mistake of avoiding using your arm to help it heal – however, you should not do this –  It may surprise you to learn that controlled movement is one of the best ways to heal, whereas not moving your shoulder can actually contribute to more pain – or even lead to a frozen shoulder!

Sports therapy essentially aims to help you develop a specific plan of safe, controlled movement which can encourage healing and then ensure range of motion remains normal, to minimize the chances of a reoccurrence.  Typically, sports therapy approaches may include:


  • Pain management
  • Manual Therapy
  • Range of Motion Exercises
  • Strengthening Exercises
  • Benefits of Sports therapy Treatment
  • Patient Education
  • Prevent Rehabilitation


Help for shoulder pain

If shoulder pain is getting you down – why not book a consultation today! We offer both Chiropractic treatment and Sports Therapy at our clinic here in Chelmsford, so if you’re not sure which treatment is best for you, simply book an initial consultation and we can advise you of the best way forward.


[1] Immediate Effects of Spinal Manipulation on Shoulder Motion Range and Pain in Individuals with Shoulder Pain: A Randomized Trial. J Chiropr Med. 2019.


Blog by / August 10, 2021 / Blog

Dr. Paul Irvine is a doctor of chiropractic who graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of NSW and in 1996, attained his Master of Chiropractic degree from Macquarie University in Australia. He practised in North Sydney for 5 years before he left Australia to travel and practise in the UK. He joined Complete Chiropractic in 2003 (est 1999) and took over the clinic in 2007