Apr 26

Shoulder Problems: A Pain in the Neck?

Shoulder Problems: A Pain in the neck

by Olivia O’ Leary D.C BSc Hons

An aching shoulder may not signal a shoulder problem. And a sore neck may not indicate a neck problem.
When the chiropractors at Gorey Family Chiropractic were asked about neck and shoulder symptoms amongst clients on presentation to the clinic one thing quickly became clear. People may come in with shoulder pain when they really have a neck problem and similarly, neck pain can mask a shoulder problem.

“The way the body reports pain is somewhat unreliable,” explained Michael Veal D.C Clinic Director “Neck pain and shoulder pain so commonly overlap that it becomes difficult to distinguish for a patient where the pain is actually coming from.


Because the neck and shoulder are intimately connected by multiple nerve pathways. When injury occurs, the brain can’t always trace pain pathways back to their source, and what we feel may not be what is really going on. “This is known as ‘referred pain”.


Shoulder pain is most often caused by an injury to the rotator cuff, a group of tendons and muscles that stabilize the joint. The rotator cuff develops wear and tear with age, and can be easily injured which can cause shoulder tendonitis or even a partial tear of a shoulder tendon.

This may cause both shoulder pain and  contribute to development of neck pain.



•    Develops in the shoulder itself or on the outside of your upper arm
•    Is dull and aching
•    Occurs when you reach overhead or behind your back, or when lifting
•    Radiates into the upper arm, but not past the elbow
•    Persists at night
•    Improves when you rest your arm


images-1Inflammation of any of the 14 nerves or eight pairs of joints in the neck can cause neck pain. The joints — or vertebrae — serve as a “hinges” allowing movement (no wonder they wear out). In fact, 65 percent of 65-year-olds have arthritis in one or more neck joints.

This causes stiffness and irritation to these joints and can be another factor in the development of a pinched nerve. Fortunately chiropractic treatment and exercise has been extensively shown to  restore flexibility and reduce irritation in the neck which helps reduce neck pain and can help stabilise the condition.

Because pain in one area can so often be confused with another, a thorough examination must be done first by your chiropractor or other specialist healthcare provider which includes range of motion, strength testing and provocative orthopaedic tests to the neck and shoulder. Should these tests prove positive it may be necessary to x ray ( x ray facilities on site)  the neck to help rule out certain conditions or better evaluate others.


•    Develops in your shoulder blade, or close to or on the side of your neck
•    Is sharp, stabbing, burning or tingling
•    Radiates down past your elbow or even into your hand
•    Persists at rest
•    Occurs when you extend your arms or twist them inward
•    Is relieved when you support your neck

Luckily most neck and shoulder pain can recover with conservative care. Evidence based guidelines for the management of neck pain and shoulder pain commonly recommend conservative measures first like chiropractic care, exercises and rehabilitative exercises.


1.  Try to rest from activities that aggravate painshoulder strecth
2. Exercises to gently stretch and then ultimately strengthen have been shown to be of benefit.
3.  Ice  your shoulder, an ice pack should be applied for 10-15 mins wrapped in thin tea towel to prevent an ice burn.
4. If you are failing to recover from your shoulder pain or your shoulder pain is more severe our clinical team holds extensive experience in the treatment and management of shoulder pain and will guide your recovery or refer your case if treatment is deemed unsuitable for your problem.

5.  Anti inflammatory medications are sometimes beneficial in the first instance but their usage is not recommended to mask or avoid treating the cause of the underlying shoulder pain.

6.    If these measures fail to bring relief, you may need an MRI of your shoulder. If that shows a torn rotator cuff, then shoulder surgery can sometimes be necessary.


Should a physical examination by your chiropractor, which may include orthopaedic, neurological or x ray studies indicate a trapped or irritated nerve or arthritis in your neck, research and evidence based guidelines have shown chiropractic treatment to be  beneficial which may include spinal manipulation, soft tissue treatment techniques, muscular stretching as well as addressing causative factors such as poor ergonomics & posture.


  1. Remember good posture; a significant proportion of neck and shoulder pain develops from postural strain
  2. Stretching & strengthening exercises: neck stiffness and weakness leave the neck vulnerable to injury
  3. Ice &  heat ( ice in acute stages, heat when a problem is more chronic)
  4. Ergonomic modifications in your workplace may be necessary to address the causes of neck pain if occupational strain exists
  5. An orthopaedic pillow whilst sometimes a little difficult to get used, to maintains and supports the natural curve of the spine whilst sleeping which is especially important with a damaged neck.

Twitter-pic-1-150x150Whether you have chronic pain in your shoulder, your neck or both, don’t wait to see an expert.

“Having a chiropractor or other specialist evaluate your complaint will determine quickly where the main problem is and will get you started on the correct treatment,” says Dr. Veal.


If the source of your pain is difficult to pinpoint, our specialist Clinical team are trained and hold extensive experience in the diagnosis, treatment and management of neck pain and shoulder pain. With onsite x ray facilities in Gorey and quick referral available for MRI your problem can be thoroughly evaluated should it be deemed necessary.

For your convenience all of our Gorey Family  Chiropractic team are registered with VHI, Glo, Aviva and Laya Healthcare allowing clients claim reimbursement from a wide range of private healthcare Insurance providers. We also provide care under the GAA injury scheme.

Opening hours Mon 8-7, Tues 9-5, Wed 8-7, Thurs 9-5, Frid 8-7

Tel: 053 94 83338   or alternatively email info@chiropractor.ie    


Aug 28

Back to School with Gorey Family Chiropractic Clinic


Make Walking To School a Habit!

To coincide with National Walk to School Week and most importantly the return of primary and secondary children to School this week in Ireland the United Chiropractic Association of which Gorey Family Chiropractic Clinic are members are encouraging families to improve their health and well-being and introduce more walking into the daily lifestyle of their children.

Back to School with Gorey Family Chiropractic Clinic

The Facts

Did you know that the number of children traveling to school by car has doubled over the past 20 years[1] and it is not only harmful to the environment but also to your pocket with the annual average costs for a school run topping €505 [2].

Exercise is an effective and important tool for ensuring the future health of our children. Obesity is now the second largest cause of death[3] and in a recent test carried out on children, it was seen on average that children who walked to and from school used more calories than a 2 hour PE lesson.[4] 9 out of 10 teachers believe that walking to school makes children brighter, more alert and ready for the first class of the day.

Walking is a terrific form of exercise that strengthens your body and helps to position the spine in the natural shape it was designed for – being upright. Regular walking helps to build up core strength and allows you to breathe better and as a result reduces fatigue and minimises other side-effects associated with bad posture.

As Chiropractors we are strongly committed to keeping future generations moving, and are trained professionals who realise the difference that simple, healthy lifestyle modifications such as walking to school or work can have on an individual’s health.

Here are some of our top tips and reasons to make walking to school become a habit!

  • Walking with your child is a great time to spend quality time with them and talk about things you don’t always have time for. It will also give you opportunity to meet other parents and children
  • If your child walks without you then ensure they are familiar with the route and have road safety awareness. (The U.K charity, Living Streets, warns that parents who try to keep their children safe by driving them to school are depriving them of the opportunity to learn road sense, putting them at greater risk when they do start traveling to school independently).
  • Check out if your school has a ‘walking bus’ where groups of children are chaperoned by a few adults on the journey to and from school with pick up and drop off points rather like a bus service.
  • Make sure your child’s backpack is not too heavy, that it is worn on both shoulders and that the weight is distributed evenly as this can cause back ache and postural problems.
  • Ensure your child’s footwear is comfortable and appropriate for walking.
  • If you do live quite far from school why not try and park further away and walk the difference – 10 to 15 minutes exercise can help your child keep in shape and keep extra pounds off.
  • Think of the environment and the money you could be saving as well as avoiding stress from the traffic and parking.

Last year over in the U.K over one million children in over 4000 schools ditched the school run as part of Walk to School Week, let’s make the numbers even greater this year!

Gorey Family Chiropractic Clinic News

If you as a parent this September are concerned about your child’s

  • Posture
  • Complaints concerning Low Back or Neck Pain
  • Headaches
  • Spinal Alignment / Curvature of the spine

We offer a special promotional rates of assessment for Children where we can offer appropriate advice and full evaluation of conditions whether big or small to start the school year off in a healthy way.

Call 053 94 83338 for further information and in the meantime ….where feasible

Make Walking to Your School a Healthy habit!


[1]Dept for Road Transport

[2]Figure is based on approved mileage rates from Revenue Commissioners

[3]World Health Organisation 2001

[4]Study by Roger L Mackett of the Centre for Transport Studies, University College London

Jul 16

Neck Pain, Poor Posture and Women: How to Avoid a Hunchback Posture

by Olivia O’ Leary D.C BSc Hons Chiropractic

We have been practicing Chiropractic in Gorey, County Wexford for over seven years now. One of the most common problems we see in clinic are patient’s complaining of neck pain. And what can particularly disturb female patients, apart from the pain itself, is when they also notice the development of what can be known as a hunchback posture.

Over time, poor posture may be caused by habits from everyday activities such as sitting at a desk, looking at the computer, driving, standing for long periods of time, or even sleeping.  As many as 63 percent of all office workers will suffer from neck pain sometime this year, with women at particular risk, according to a recent comprehensive review of neck pain studies.

Poor posture is partly to blame for this: with an ever-increasing dependence on computers the main contributory. Happily, some of the main factors affecting posture and ergonomics are completely within a person’s ability to control and are not difficult to change.

Lets examine this area;

Why Does it Matter if we Have Poor Posture or if the Shoulders Appear Hunched?

To begin with, we all notice it. It does not look good and we feel that our bodies are out of alignment. Something doesn’t seem right. You may not even notice it yourself. Maybe someone else notices your posture or you go to try on a top that doesn’t have a collar and something doesn’t look right…. and you would be correct.

This phenomenon can happen when the spine in the neck has shifted forward. This is termed forward head posture. It can also be known as “military neck” or a “loss of cervical lordosis” or “loss of neck curve”.  This represents a big problem to the spine leading to a variety of different problems including muscular imbalances, muscular weakness and stiffness within the spine itself. This can in the longer term lead to increasingly serious spinal problems.

“Forward Head Posture leads to long term muscle strain, disc herniations, arthritis and pinched nerves.”- Mayo Clinic, Nov 3, 2000

Unfortunately by this stage poor posture can easily have become second nature to us, causing or aggravating episodes of neck pain and interfering with daily living whilst damaging these sensitive spinal structures at the same time.
Hunched back and forward head posture can be the culprit behind the development of many symptoms such as

-neck pain
  • -headaches
  • -stiff neck
  • stiffness and tightness in the upper shoulders
  • pain between the shoulder blades
  • upper back pain

” for every inch of forward head posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 lbs.”
 – Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Vol 3.

So How Do We Prevent the Development of Problems Like These?

Firstly, having correct posture means keeping each part of the body in alignment with the neighboring parts. Proper posture keeps all parts balanced and supported. With appropriate posture (when standing) it should be possible to draw a straight line from the ear, through the shoulder, hip, knee, and into the middle of the ankle.

For those working in an office environment here’s how to set up a workstation in an ergonomically efficient way to help prevent these types of problem and maintain good posture in a seated environment.

How to Create a Perfect Workstation for Both Mind and Body.

  1. Sit up straight with your shoulder blades pulled back and your chin up.

Position your monitor so that the top of the screen is at or just below eye level. One study found that people who tilt their heads more than 3 percent to view their monitor have a 50 percent greater risk of neck pain.
  3. Move your keyboard so that the distance from the edge of your desktop to the J key is greater than five inches.
  4. Use a chair with armrests, which an international task force on neck pain found decreases the risk of neck discomfort.
  5. Place your keyboard so that, while you’re typing, your forearms are parallel to the floor or tilted slightly upward.

The soles of your feet should rest comfortably on the floor (or a footrest) and your thighs should be roughly parallel to the floor.
  7. Remember to take a break every 20-40 minutes to get up, walk around and stretch out.

Unfortunately if you are already experiencing neck pain and have a forward head posture, making these type of modifications will certainly be helpful but chances are you may need some treatment from a chiropractor or similarly qualified health professional with experience in dealing with these disorders on a daily basis. If when you stand sideways and your ears do not align over your shoulders and if you are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned it may be time to be checked. Poor posture is  a primary cause of neck pain that unfortunately may be chronic if not managed correctly.

We realise it can be confusing knowing where to choose for your healthcare services. If you, a friend or family member requires care for neck or back  pain, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward to helping you in the future.

Tel: 053 94 83338 to schedule an initial consultation appointment.

Opening hours Mon 8-7, Tues 9-5, Wed 8-7, Thurs 9-5, Fri 8-7.