Apr 03

Shoulder Problems: A Pain in the neck


Shoulder Problems: A Pain in the neck

by Olivia O’ Leary D.C BSc Hons

Pain in the neckAn aching sholder 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    

Mar 07

Frozen shoulder, the most restrictive shoulder problem of all?

It is on frozen shoulder gorey, e of the most common, frustrating and painful conditions to affect the shoulder especially in the 45+ years age group. It can develop following a trauma or an accident with your shoulder, such as dislocation or fracture, or can slowly develop for no clear apparent reason.

Usually, clients present to us when the arm becomes very painful and when it feels stiff and weak and when they are getting unable to work, sleep, or use it properly because of the pain. Female patients often complain that they cannot hook their bra, or dress easily and men say that they cannot reach their wallet in their back pocket!

If ignored with time the situation progressively deteriorates leading to more extreme restriction of the arm and to an immobile painful shoulder.

It can’t be stressed enough that early evaluation is always the best approach in order to avoid progression and deterioration of a frozen shoulder. Shoulder exercises alone do not effectively stop progression and often patients then may be given the impression nothing can be done. Left to progress, it is not uncommon that a frozen shoulder can last 2 years or more.

Our chiropractors are specialised and extremely experienced in the examination, treatment and rehabilitation of frozen shoulder and it is a special interest area of both chiropractors. We would be delighted to offer guidance and help to anyone potentially affected by the condition which is both a frustrating and painful condition to suffer.

After a thorough and careful initial assessment of your shoulder which may include x rays (x-ray facilities onsite) or further imaging our chiropractors can confirm the presence of frozen shoulder or another potential shoulder disorder and specific advice will be given to you as to how your condition should be best treated and managed.

The focus of chiropractic treatment and rehabilitation of the shoulder will be to help you regain movement and flexibility in your shoulder which will significantly ease the shoulder and arm pain. Specialised chiropractic manipulative and soft tissue treatment techniques are used to help your shoulder, together with specific prescribed exercises that clients are taught to perform at home.  Our focus will be to bring your shoulder back to proper mobility and strength through non invasive physical treatment in the fastest possible time allowing you to feel that life can go back to normal!

You may not only need treatment in your shoulder joint where you feel the pain, but also in your upper back and the back of your shoulder neck and shoulder pain Goreyblade, since these areas are often affected by the frozen shoulder. Advice may also be given concerning your posture for those clients with shoulder pain that may be linked to poor posture.

Gorey Family Chiropractic is covered by VHI, Irish Life Health, Laya as well as smaller health Insurance companies such as HSA, Garda Medical etc.

For further information please call 053 (94) 83338
or feel free to email us with your enquiry at info@chiropractor.ie