We’ve all heard the expression, “carrying the world on our shoulders”. For most of us, it’s true. We depend on our shoulders for our daily activities whether it is cooking dinner for our family, picking up our grandkids, or brushing our hair. So what happens when our shoulders aren’t able to function? Well our world often comes to a halt. The simple tasks we once took for granted become difficult or nearly impossible to do. Shoulder dysfunction can look different in everyone. It can be tight and stiff, it can be painful and sharp or it can be so excruciating that we can’t even sleep. But regardless of how it presents, it affects us all in the same way: it affects our quality of life.
What Causes Bad Shoulders?
So let’s the talk about shoulders and why can they be so problematic. Our shoulders are designed for mobility, like our hips. Our shoulders can move in all different planes of motion such as forward, backwards, up, down and to the side. Pretty neat, right? However, whenever a joint has more mobility also means it has a greater likelihood for injury. Whether it’s a direct fall on or a hit to the shoulder, sitting in a poor posture (i.e. looking at you desk jockeys), or constantly carrying emotional stress. All of these can lead to wear and tear on the shoulder joint and eventually to pain and dysfunction.
What I Do To Help My Shoulders?
For starters, we can:
- Exercise: specifically lifting weights or using resistance bands. When I talk about weightlifting, I don’t mean using heavy weights but rather using lighter free weights moving at a slow pace to work the small rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder.
- Diet: An anti-inflammatory diet will help decrease the inflammation within that joint as well as the entire body. Inflammation is often an underlying cause for dysfunction and pain.
- Stress management: Prolonged stress can create inflammation within our bodies. Like diet, this inflammation also leads to pain and dysfunction.
What Else Can I Do?
But what if I’ve tried all the above and nothing has helped? In fact, my shoulders just are getting progressively worse? Does that mean I’m broken beyond repair? Of course not! What it often means is that there may be an underlying neurological cause to your chronic shoulder pain. When the body misaligns at the specifically at the top bone in your spine, otherwise known as your atlas bone, it places pressure on the brainstem. This misalignment can affect your entire body.
How Does My Upper Neck Affect My Shoulders?
Within our brainstem is all our basic body control centers: our respiratory rate, our cardiac rhythm, our hearing, our vision and our body balance as well as posture. When the atlas misaligns, it places pressure on the brainstem creating a phenomenon known as postural distortion. Although the misalignment starts in the upper neck, it affects the posture of our entire body, including our shoulders. Shoulder pain is one of the most common symptoms patients often seek NUCCA care for. In our office, 95% of our patients see improvement in their shoulder just a few months. Perhaps your shoulder issue isn’t starting in your shoulders but rather in your neck. To learn more on how we can help, call us or schedule a free consultation.