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Roaring Fork Valley | Glenwood Springs | Chiropractor

Shoulder Pain


Common Causes Of Shoulder Pain

Rotator Cuff Tear:
The rotator cuff is four muscles which move and stabilize the shoulder.  Rotator cuff tendons (attach muscle to bone) become over-worked from repetitive wear and tear.  Pain is deep in the shoulder which is worse with lifting or rotating the arm.  Weakness, instability, and crepitus (cracking/popping) are prevalent with rotator cuff tears.  

A rotator cuff tendon becomes trapped and inflamed between shoulder bones.  Developing gradually through wear and tear, most commonly with repetitive overhead movements.  Symptoms include pain in the shoulder, disturbed sleep, weakness, and limited motion.  Excess bone growth can also cause impingement of the rotator cuff tendon.

Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction of soft tissues gliding over/across each other during movement.  A bursa becomes irritated and inflamed causing pain.  Most commonly from repetitive motion and weak/tight muscles increasing stress on them.  Pain is achy at the site of the bursa along with stiffness, and weakness.  Bursitis often accompanies impingement or rotator cuff tears.  

Frozen Shoulder:
Frozen shoulder a.k.a. "adhesive capsulitis" results from scar tissue (adhesion) developing in the shoulder joint capsule.  It may develop after an injury or from overuse with progressive loss in shoulder range of motion.  Gradual loss of mobility follows the initial pain with shoulder movement.

Labrum Tear:
The shoulder labrum is a soft fibrous tissue rim which surrounds the inner shoulder joint.  This lip allows the upper arm bone to fit better which aids in stabilization, attachment sites for several ligaments, and equal force transfer throughout the shoulder.  Symptoms include pain, catching/popping/grinding, instability, weakness, and limited mobility.

Adhesion, Mobility, & Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body.  With that mobility comes a high risk of injury, most commonly from overuse.  Healthy shoulders can fully abduct pain-free and easily. We use our shoulders with almost any upper body movement.  Excessive use is the primary way for adhesion to develop.  Adhesion is connective tissue that acts like glue in the body limiting flexibility and strength.

Adhesion is the most common cause of limited shoulder mobility.  Limited shoulder flexibility increases the risk of pain, cartilage/labrum damage, and rotator cuff injury.  Fixing adhesion restores healthy shoulder mechanics reducing injury risk.  If you have shoulder pain, it’s critical to assess shoulder mobility.

Below is a video demonstrating how to test yourself for limited shoulder mobility.  
If this test is limited, difficult, or painful, we can help.    

Is limited mobility causing your shoulder pain?
Test Yourself

Shoulder Abduction

  • Use a mirror to measure
  • Raise both arms above head

Full Mobility
  • Both arms should touch your head
  • ​Arms should be in line with ears

This is only a general test of shoulder mobility.  It does not establish a diagnosis. 

Patient Testimonial

I had a shoulder injury that wouldn't heal and range of motion with everyday activities was becoming very difficult. A friend of mine referred me to Dr. Adam Holen and I was astonished at the improvements he made in increasing my range of motion, increasing my strength and ability to handle simple tasks and strenuous exercises, and virtually eliminated all pain associated with my original complaint. I couldn't even lift myself out of a chair without pain. And now Back in the gym and going hard! Thank you Dr. Holen.

Steve D.

Shoulder Pain Relief