Sports Medicine/Shoulder pain


My question is that I have trouble with ROM on my right shoulder.  The other problem is that when I sleep on my shoulder it hurts terribly bad to the point were I don't want to move my shoulder for a couple of minutes.

Do you have any idea what could be causing my pain?

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Your Answer:     Hello Charles!

From your letter, I have no idea how old you are, or what you think might have happened to cause the disruption in the shoulder.  So, my answer might be just conjecture, but I will, nevertheless, try to give you an answer.

You mentioned the lack of ROM (Range Of Motion) in your right shoulder.  This is probably your dominant shoulder, so I'm assuming that the right side was somehow overworked.  The pain of the magnitude you speak of when laying on it, is fairly profound.  This pain is probably due to the injury which caused a misplacement (not a dislocation) of the shoulder joint,  and the upper arm bone. With the Rotator Cuff surrounding the joint to protect it with strong ligaments, this tissue has moved allowing the cartledge inside the joint to either squeeze or pinch the nerves.  These nerves attach in numerous places, and the cartledge, or hard "pillow" inside the shoulder, then becomes compressed and pain develops when pressure  is put on the shoulder.   

Another problem, briefly addressed above, is your lack of ROM.  Because of the misplacement of the shoulder joint, the ligamentous tissue surrounding the shoulder has either torn, stretched, or somehow compromised full motion. Usually, when the arm is moved across the front of the body, or moved straight up,  will cause extensive pain usually radiating down the arm into the elbow, or even the fingers.  The body will not allow the arm to bypass the signals, and will limit the normal ROM preventing more damage to the shoulder joint. Also involved with a lack of motion will be the scapula and clavical, which have secondarily been misplaced, or also called, misarticulated.

Probably the first thing you want to do is get an MRI or Xray of the shoulder to define exactly what the problem might be. If surgery can be avoided, that would e the first choice.  Also, if cortisone (steroid) shots can be avoided, please try at all costs to avoid them.  Why?  They cause scar tissue to develop in the area of the shot, and also, they really cause enormous pain when given, but lessen later, and make the area feel better. Steroids  do nothing to heal it.


1).    Use ice packs, covered with a damp wash cloth, and placed directly on the most painful part of the shoulder.  Leave on until the ice has melted, and repeat.  Reminder:  Keep the ice pack on as long as possible, and then replace the ice cubes, and the damp wash cloth placed on the shoulder, as long as you can.  Do NOT use hot packs!

2).     Get an Xray or MRI of the shoulder;

3).     Obtain the names of GOOD Osteopathic or Chiropractic Physicians who specialize in Sports Medicine;

4).     Do not lay on your shoulder;

Some of this information is redundant, but it is intended to be the basic treatment for shoulder injuries when the causative factors are unknown. If you have further questions or concerns, please contact me. I'm hoping the few things I have mentioned would help until you can find a good physician to manipulate, or refer you to an Orthopedic surgeon.  Many times this does not need surgery, and reducing the shoulder  to it's normal joint integrity will be all that is needed.

Good luck, Charles, and I hope you feel better soon.

Dr. Patricia Arthur

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Dr. Patricia B. Arthur, DC, MRC, CST


As a 30-year practicing Chiropractic Physician, my specialty was Sports Medicine. For 8 years I had the distinct pleasure of working with the USOC, and traveled the world to care for the athletes in the Pre-Olympic venues for the Summer Games. When I wasn't traveling, I had a private practice, and a hospital practice, in Kamuela, Hawai'i. Questions I couldn't answer usually dealt with pharmeceuticals. This was not my expertise, but the simple questions pertaining to familiar drugs I was able to digress, or refer to someone that was knowledgable in that field. Most Sports Medicine field injuries were familiar to me, but I always aired on the side of caution. In my office practice, I would tend to see more patients with the weekend injuries who would try to self-treat, only making the injury worse than it should have been! Nevertheless, I never took anything for granted, and so it was my conservative approach to the "cause-and-effect" mechanisms that were vitally important to the healing process.


Following my competitive nature, I knew Sports Medicine would always be a part of my life. After graduation from Palmer University in Iowa, the old adage taught at the school dealt only with the spinal column......anything connected to the spine was outside our scope of practice. To me, this was too simplistic, because the complex body also had arms and legs! From this point, I developed specific technigues which would encorporate the body as a whole rather than haphazard segments. There is nothing traumatic that happens to a single ligament, tendon or joint that doesn't effect a secondary, or possibly a tertiary element in that area. In order for that space to heal, all the factors must be addressed. Volunteering my time teaching referrees, coaches, and interested parents about the realities of probable sports injuries was worth a thousand words!j

American Chiropractic Association; Local Emergency Response Committee; Hazardous Materials Response Team; Urban Search and Rescue Team - Operations and Planning; Federal Corps of Engineers Committee; Earthquake Advisory Board; Big Island Wildfire Committee

Papers published focusing on the importance of proper care of sports injuries; Authored medical columns for the syndicated magazine "The People's Doctor "; Published papers in professional journals on Head Injuries in Sports; Published papers on Drug Abuse in Sports.

Robert Packer Hospital - Certified Surgical Technician - CST; Palmer University - Doctor of Chiropractic - D.C.; Wright State University - Masters in Counseling/Psychology; Wright State University - Masters In Couseling of the Severely Disabled.

Awards and Honors
Selected US Olympic Physician -1988; Graduated Wright State University with a 3.75 GPA; Graduated Palmer University with a 3.5 GPA; Faculty Appointment - Palmer University Post Graduate Education; Faculty Appointment- Hawai'i/Kapiolani Community College - Skills Team Tester;

Past/Present Clients
Cincinnati Bengals Football Team pre-season training; Summer Olympic Athletes worldwide; Kona Ironman Triathletes - Finish - line physician

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