Arm, Shoulder and Hand Problems

Shoulder, arm and hand problems are commonly the result of joint dysfunction and nerve interference in the spine and/or upper limbs.

Chiropractors are educated to identify the causes of nerve interference and to assist in treatment and management.

A chiropractor can also advise on long-term strategies to ensure prevention.


Common Causes of Hand Should and Arm Pains

Cervico- Thoracic Vertebral Subluxation

Locking of joints in the neck and upper back may stress nerves from the spine, often resulting in referred pain, numbness, pins and needles, muscle spasm, weakness or loss of use of the arm. Nerves to the blood vessels may be affected causing hot or cold changes or swelling in the arm.

Over-use – Excessive loading

This may arise from repetitive stresses at work, the use of vibrating machinery, poor posture, carrying school bags on one shoulder, sporting activities, poor bedding or certain sleep patterns. This may lead to joint and ligament sprain, muscle strain and nerve irritation.


Sudden trauma

Such as injuries from sport, car accidents (especially whiplash), falls and knocks, and children being violently shaken. Again, nerve damage, joint subluxation (ie. misalignment and locking), ligament sprain and muscle strain may be the consequence.


Referred pain

This may occur from problems in other areas of the spine, organs of the chest or upper abdomen.



Poor function of joints can cause degenerative changes (osteoarthritis). Correct joint function and muscle balance is essential for healthy bodily function. Regular chiropractic care, exercise, weight control and a nutritious diet will help reduce the development or progression of osteoarthritic changes.


Chiropractic benefits

Many common conditions such as frozen shoulder, bursitis, tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome respond well to chiropractic management.

Chiropractors know that prevention is far better than cure. Regular chiropractic care helps reduce the likelihood of problems by assisting optimal balance and function of the spine and nervous system.

The chiropractic approach is to restore function by:

  1. correcting poorly functioning joints (called subluxations)
  2. improving muscle balance and strength
  3. advising on remedial exercises and preventative procedures


Chiropractic care

On the initial consultation the chiropractor will take a comprehensive history and examine the spine, shoulder and arm. The chest, and abdomen may be examined and X-rays may be taken.

The chiropractor may examine other areas seemingly unrelated such as the lower back. Your chiropractor is interested in your overall health and also recognises that your problem may be caused by instability in another area.

A course of treatment to re-establish normal function will be recommended if it is considered that chiropractic care may benefit you.

Exercises and advice on reducing the effects of physical stress may be given. Referral to other health practitioners may be made when necessary.

Recommendations for ongoing care may be made to assist in maintenance of health and prevention of future problems. Health care requires constant attention for maximum benefit. Chiropractors do not utilise drugs or surgery.


1. Grieve GP. (1981 )’Common Vertebral Joint Problems’, Churchill Livingstone, pp 189-204.
2. Bourdlllon J, (1982) ‘Spinal Manipulation’, Heinemann Medical Books, London and Appleton-Century-Crotts, New York, 3rd Ed..pp 205-207.
3. Lowther,DA (1985)’The Effects Of Compression and Tension on the Behaviour of Connective Tissues’ ,Aspects of Manipulative Therapy,2nd.Ed.Churchill Livingstone ,2:16-22.
4. Evans EB, Eggers GW, Butler JK, Blumel J (1960): ‘Experimental Immobllisation and Remoblllsatlon of Rat Knee Joints.’ J. Bone Joint Surg. 42A: 737-758.