Shoulder Pain Treatment: A Spokane Valley WA Chiropractor’s Perspective

get shoulder pain relief at our chiropractic office

Over the years as a chiropractor in Spokane Valley WA one of the most common conditions reported from people coming to see us is shoulder pain. The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the human body. It is a “ball and socket” joint, meaning that it can move in any direction. In fact, it is considered to be the most mobile joint in the body, which is helpful given the wide range of activities we need our arms for! However, because it is so mobile, it is not a very stable joint, which makes it highly susceptible to injury making it a common ailment we help people with at River City Chiropractic in Spokane Valley WA.

Shoulder pain affects around 70% of people at some point in their lives. Like other musculoskeletal conditions, shoulder pain can be easily divided into two main categories: acute and chronic. Around 50% of these cases will resolve within 8-12 weeks, but 40% turn into chronic problems that last for 1 year or longer, making it an incredibly frustrating condition to experience. The point is, if you experience a shoulder injury, it is extremely important to address it as quickly as possible to prevent it from becoming a chronic condition that gets more difficult to treat over time.

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There are quite a few causes for shoulder pain, but a common one is repetitive poor posture. Prolonged sitting, computer or cell phone use affects several different muscles that attach to the shoulder which help to stabilize the shoulder joint. Regular poor posture creates muscle imbalances, namely in the form of the shoulders rolling forward. Other common causes of shoulder pain include traumas such as falls or car accidents, stress, repetitive movements, and osteoarthritis (joint degeneration). Many of these causes tend to create misalignment of the shoulder joints.

At River City Chiropractic we specialize in identifying and correcting these misalignments and postural imbalances through chiropractic adjustments in conjunction with rehabilitative exercises. Because there are many different causes of shoulder pain, it is essential to uncover the root cause of your problem so that your problem can be addressed appropriately.

How We Treat Shoulder Pain in Spokane Valley WA

Comprehensive Consultation, Exam, and X-Rays

Before we can begin treating your shoulder pain, we must first identify the root cause of the shoulder pain which may not always be coming from the shoulder itself and this is why every new patient encounter at our Spokane Valley WA chiropractic office involves a comprehensive history to find out what has happened in the past and present along with lifestyle factors that may be leading or contributing to the shoulder pain.

The next step would be a thorough exam consisting of postural and range of motion analysis, orthopedic and neurological testing, bilateral weight testing, spinal motion palpation, and if necessary x-rays to determine the exact location, the extent of the damage, and formulate a custom care plan to help correct the root cause of the shoulder pain.

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Corrective Chiropractic Care In Spokane Valley WA For Shoulder Pain Relief

Here at River City Chiropractic in Spokane Valley WA we specialize in spinal corrective care.  Just a small percentage of chiropractors have this approach and training.  Commonly, shoulder pain is due to misalignments in the bones forming the shoulder joint and or in the spinal bones of the neck, or possibly abnormal curvatures in the spine from the front or side.  When people lose the natural curvature in the spine or have misalignments that can cause irritation or compression of the spinal nerves, tension of the spinal cord and muscles, and lead to degeneration in the joints because they don’t move properly.

Our goal at River City Chiropractic is to not only help people get relief from their shoulder pain, but also to correct their spine and posture so the issues don’t continue to come back through spine or extremity adjustments and a comprehensive spinal exercise program performed in office as well as at home.

Custom Therapeutic Exercise Program For Shoulder Pain

At River City Chiropractic we custom make a home exercise program and provide spinal homecare equipment that helps our patients get better and long lasting results.  Following a thorough exam/xray and report of findings our doctor at River City Chiropractic in Spokane Valley WA will create a home exercise plan that is specific to your posture and x-ray findings.  With this program comes some special rehab equipment to help our patients in Spokane Valley WA get better results, faster.

We also have access to a database of 1000’s of stretches/exercises with videos that can be prescribed to our patients to help them with core stability or address any other muscle weakness or tightness concerns.  These exercises are designed to help people get relief faster, hold adjustments longer, preventing further degeneration, and restoring the natural curvature in the neck.

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Spinal Decompression Spokane Valley WA

Often the reason people experience shoulder pain is because they have degenerating or bulged spinal discs in their neck. The spinal discs are the gel-like cushion between the vertebrae that enable the spine to bend and twist. However, due to loss of normal spinal curvature or improper movement of the spine the spinal discs can protrude or begin to breakdown which causes compression on the spinal cord and or nerves in the neck often resulting in neck or shoulder pain, numbness/tingling, or muscle weakness in the shoulder, arm or hands.

Spinal surgery to treat disc problems can be very expensive and risky in the sense of potential complications as well as outcomes. A much safer and effective alternative is spinal decompression therapy, which works by gently stretching the spine relieving the pressure off the spinal discs and nerves.

At River City Chiropractic in Spokane Valley WA we use the Back On Trac spinal decompression chair which assists in hydrating the discs, restoring normal spinal motion and curvature as well as adding in heat and vibration to relax any tight muscles for optimal results. The Back On Trac decompression chair has been a great addition to our Spokane Valley WA clinic helping our patients relieve neck or shoulder pain quickly in conjunction with regular spinal adjustments.

Nutritional Supplementation For Shoulder Pain

What you put into your body either helps it to heal and repair or promotes inflammation and disease. At River City Chiropractic in Spokane Valley WA we are very passionate and knowledgeable in dietary changes and supplementation strategies to reduce inflammation, and support healing and repair to help provide faster relief from shoulder pain.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain in Spokane Valley WA


In and around the shoulder joints exist tiny, fluid-filled sacs called bursae. These sacs provide cushioning and support for the shoulder joints so there isn’t as much pressure on the adjacent bones of each shoulder joint. Due to things like overuse and wear-and-tear, bursae can become inflamed, which causes a condition called bursitis. Bursitis causes pain typically on top of or on the outside of the shoulder. Lifting an arm overhead or rotating it in circles can be aggravating to the bursae and increase pain. This is problematic because we use our shoulders for so many different movements involving the arm.

Many people are given medications and injections to treat bursitis, but it can also be effectively managed through natural means. Gentle movement exercises can also be effective in helping the bursae to heal. At home, ice can also be utilized to decrease both inflammation and pain and should be applied periodically throughout the day to assist the healing process.

Frozen Shoulder

Another common condition that causes shoulder pain is adhesive capsulitis, more commonly known as “Frozen Shoulder”. The shoulder joints are enclosed in a joint capsule, in which synovial fluid is present to reduce friction during joint movement. When the capsule thickens, it begins to restrict motion in the shoulder, which can cause pain that can worsen over time. Frozen Shoulder often occurs in 3 stages – Freezing, Frozen, and Thawing. In the Freezing Stage, mobility is decreasing and it can be painful at times with certain movements. In the Frozen stage, the pain usually decreases, but movement is extremely limited. In the Thawing Stage, mobility is improving and symptoms are dissipating. Frozen Shoulder commonly occurs in people who aren’t able to move their arm as much, such as people with a broken arm bone or someone who recently had a stroke.

The key to treating frozen shoulder is getting these joints moving again. Chiropractic care along with exercises and stretches should be utilized frequently to help the condition “thaw” so that proper shoulder range of motion can be restored. They should also be continued after improvement is made to ensure the shoulder stays balanced and avoids future episodes from happening. They should also be performed on the unaffected side as well, as it can be common to develop frozen shoulder in the opposite shoulder than the one that initially had it. Keeping the shoulder balanced can help maintain good mobility and posture in the upper part of the body.


Osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Arthritis, is a condition in which the affected joint is worn down over time. It results in decreased joint space and inflammation, which can be painful and limit the shoulder’s ability to function. Some risk factors for developing osteoarthritis include, but are not limited to age, weight, past injuries, and repetitive motions/stress to the joint over time. It can affect any joint in the body, but the shoulder is a particularly common location for it to occur.

With osteoarthritis, it is important to understand that it cannot be reversed. However, it can be appropriately managed to where progression can slow down and even halt. This makes treatment extremely important. At River City Chiropractic, we utilize chiropractic adjustments and weight-bearing exercises to help strengthen the joint and improve its mobility. We have to preserve as much range of motion and function as we can to decrease the chance of it having a detrimental impact on a person’s quality of life. If managed diligently, the impact of osteoarthritis can be diminished, which can allow you to enjoy your life and the activities you love to do.

Rotator Cuff Injury

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that surround and support the glenohumeral joint in the shoulder, providing some stability in keeping that joint from dislocating. Rotator cuff injuries represent one of the most common types of shoulder injuries you can acquire. Straining a rotator cuff muscle can present with a deep ache in the shoulder that worsens with many different shoulder movements. It is common in athletes, but also in those who work with their arms a lot such as construction workers.

Most rotator cuff injuries can resolve through entirely natural means. Chiropractic, massage, and exercise can be utilized to ensure proper joint movement, joint stabilization, and tissue healing. Utilizing ice and being diligent with exercises and stretches at home can ensure that your recovery from a rotator cuff injury is a smooth and hassle-free process. For more serious rotator cuff injuries, including more extensive tears or even ruptures, more invasive treatment such as injections or surgery may be required. Regardless, it is important to have your shoulder assessed as quickly as possible so the right strategy for care can be implemented.

Shoulder Sprain

Many people tend to confuse the terms “strain” and “sprain”. To put it simply, “strain” occurs to muscles, while “sprains” occur to ligaments that connect bones. The shoulder has several different ligaments which keep the shoulder and arm bones connected and relatively stable. Due to trauma or overuse, it is possible to sprain these ligaments, meaning fibers of the ligament become damaged. This can cause both pain and inflammation to occur, which results in both discomfort and loss of function in the shoulder.

With shoulder sprains, stability becomes the key factor. Joints can sometimes be looser when ligaments are damaged, so we don’t want to further mobilize the joint. Thus, stabilizing exercises are the main method utilized to treat shoulder sprains. At River City Chiropractic in Spokane Valley WA, we have a database of 1000’s of exercises with instructional videos that can be prescribed to assist with building strength and stability in the shoulder muscles while the damaged ligaments heal over time. If the problem is identified promptly, it can usually be resolved through conservative treatment methods.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Most often yes. Chiropractors are trained to assess the movement of the shoulder and identify any restrictions or misalignments that are occurring in the different joints of the shoulder and or neck. Through chiropractic adjustments, they can restore normal alignment and motion, which can help get your shoulder feeling back to normal again.


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River City Chiropractic

15413 E Valleyway Ave Building B Suite 100
Spokane Valley, WA 99037

(509) 241-3088
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