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Table of Contents


Shoulder and Arm Problems

Chiropractic Can Help

Problems with the neck and shoulder are often called different things by patients: neuritis, bursitis, neuralgia, rheumatism, frozen shoulder, fibrositis, sprained, strained or sore muscles or poor circulation. Some people may blame their shoulder or other joint problems on "old age" even though their other shoulder, which doesn’t have any problems is just as old.

The brain "talks" with the rest of your body through a vast telecommunications system made up of nerves. Nerves come out of your brain in a large bundle called the spinal cord and travel down your back inside the spinal column. As the nerves from your brain travel down your spinal cord, they first have to pass through holes (foramina) between the spinal bones (vertebrae). Some nerves go straight to their point of destination, but some first mix with other nerves to form complicated nerve networks called a nerve plexus.

The brachial plexus is made up of nerves, which come out of the middle and lower neck and upper back. After they interconnect to form the brachial plexus, they branch off to supply different areas, especially the shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers.

The most common form of brachial plexus damage is to the nerves that make up the brachial plexus as they exit the spinal column through the foramina plexus. In the foramina, the nerves are surrounded by a ring of bone and meninges (tough coverings), and if the ring becomes smaller, the nerves may become compressed or "pinched." What causes the nerves to get "pinched"? Many things: long-standing spinal stress; old injuries such as falls from childhood; new injuries such as sports mishaps or car accidents (especially whiplash, a situation where the head and neck are suddenly "snapped" forward and backward); arthritis; being twisted, pulled or shaken; or even sleeping in an awkward position as well as many other stresses and strains of daily living.

Depending on which brachial plexus nerves are damaged, different symptoms and problems may be experienced. Neck pain or neck stiffness may be one of the first signs of brachial plexus damage. In some people the pain may radiate to the shoulder and down to the arm, wrist, hand or finger. Sometimes there’s extremity pain but not neck pain. Sometimes there’s no pain but numbness-a sure sign of nerve damage-and sometimes there’s pain in one are the brachial plexus goes to and numbness in another. "Pins-and-needles" of the fingers or other areas can be a sign of brachial plexus problems, which weakness of the involved parts may also occur. (1)

Because of the complicated way nerves interrelate, conditions such as headache, migraine, facial pain, dizziness, limited, painful or stiff motion of the head and neck, throat conditions, thyroid and nasal problems and even epilepsy have been reported as being caused by brachial plexus damage. Lower back pain has been reported to be caused by cervical or neck spinal damage as well. (2)

Although chiropractic’s success with shoulder, arm and hand problems is well documented. (5,6) it is not a treatment for those problems. The chiropractic approach to a person’s health problems is very different from the medical approach. Rather than treat the condition a patient has, the chiropractor concentrates on the health of the patient. Chiropractic is devoted to correcting abnormal spinal structural conditions called vertebral subluxations which cause abnormal spine and joint motion and nervous system stress. The nervous system is what coordinates and organizes your body, and when it is functioning without subluxations you are more free and flowing, more balanced and more "whole."

As a general rule it is wisest to explore drugless, non-surgical methods of healing first, before having to undergo more extreme routes of drugs and surgery. In actual practice many people go to chiropractors after they’ve gone through the medical runaround and are fed up and tired with the drugs they’ve been taking. Too often drugs only give you a temporary relief of symptoms-after they’ve worn off the problems come back. It is sometimes necessary to use drugs and even surgery, but one must be prudent about such extreme therapies.

Even if your fender-bender or fall did not cause you any great pain or symptoms, it would be wise to have your spine checked to see if any vertebrae have been "knocked out of place" or subluxated. By having your and your family’s spines checked on a periodic basis, many of the problems caused by an unhealthy spinal column can be corrected and even prevented before they become more serious.

Quotes of the Week

"You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere." Lee Iacocca

"The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination." Maya Angelou

Dr. Maloof’s Case Study

A 45 year old man came to see Dr. Maloof with right shoulder pain with numbness in his right hand. He couldn’t understand why and where the problem came from because the symptoms came on suddenly. After an examination and X-rays Dr. Maloof discovered that he had an old neck injury from football and also and an old whiplash injury which affected his neck. He had subluxations (pinched nerves) in his neck causing the pain. With adjustments to correct his spine, his shoulder pain went away and he no longer had numbness. He is grateful that he came to Dr. Maloof. As a bonus he is a diabetic taking large amounts of insulin and they could never balance out his blood sugar. After Dr. Maloof’s care, his blood sugar balanced and he decreased his insulin intake. The body can heal itself without nerve interference through chiropractic care!

If you or someone you know would like a consultation please call my office and schedule a time.

Dr. Catherine Maloof
(949) 581-6543

You may view Dr. Maloof’s website by clicking www.drmaloof.com

Dr. Maloof Online, ã 2003 


  1. Calliet, R. Neck and arm pain. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company, 1979. P. 22
  2. Ibid. p. 40
  3. DeFranca, G.G. & Levine, I.J. The T-4 Syndrome. JMPT, 1995, 18, pp. 34-37
  4. Polkingotn, B.S. Chiropractic treatment of frozen shoulder syndrome. JMPT, 1995, 18, pp. 105-115.

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