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Is your Shoulder Pain related to your Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

Yes! You read that correctly. While often times shoulder pain can be related to injuries to the actual tissues in the shoulder, such as the rotator cuff muscles, arthritis in the joint etc. It may also be stemming from an issue with your pelvic floor stability. This blog is going to explore the relationship between the pelvic floor and shoulder dysfunction, the importance of looking for the root cause of the problem vs just the collateral damage and how chiropractic care can offer effective treatment solutions.

Let's first discuss, what is the pelvic floor? The pelvic floor refers to a group of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that support the organs in the pelvis such as the bladder, intestines etc. It is part of your core muscles that work to create balance and stability in your body. Energy for movement, especially in the extremities (arms and legs) is generated from the middle outwards. What that means, is that in order to throw a ball, for example, your body first stabilizes and generates energy from the "core" which then moves outwards to the shoulder, elbow, wrist etc. When these muscles become weak or out of balance it can create problems up or down the chain of how our muscles work to create movement. Dysfunction of the pelvic floor is most often discussed in women after childbirth but it is also a very important part of stability of the core in men and all individuals.

One study compared how the pelvic floor and shoulder muscles interacted when a person lifted their arm in different directions. One of the things they observed was that the pelvic floor muscles engaged before the deltoid muscle (muscle of the shoulder) every time, no matter which direction the arm went. What this means is that the pelvic floor, along with other core muscles like the diaphragm, transverse abdominis, multifidus, etc. secure our physical centre and create a sturdy anchor for the muscles that create and support shoulder motion before we start moving our arm. This occurs in every motion that the shoulder makes. Therefore, you need to be able to properly engage and stabilize your trunk (core muscles, spine and rib cage) in order to have proper motion of the shoulder joints.

This is why it becomes important to have a clinician, like a chiropractor, as part of your health care team to take care of your neuromusculoskeletal system. It's far more complex than we sometimes give it credit when trying to reduce an injury to a simplistic mechanism. Proper assessment of not only the site of injury and pain, but also the areas that contribute to movement and function of that area is crucial for effective treatment. This can be especially true when you have a condition that is chronic or recurrent in nature.

In my clinic, you will always see that, no matter where the area of chief complaint or injury, I will always do a full assessment of your spine, posture and joints surrounding the main area of dysfunction to get a more complete picture of how your body moves and where there are energy leaks that are creating problems that may or may not result in pain. Treatments might include:

  1. Spinal and extremity adjustments to help improve joint mobility, function and alignment

  2. Soft tissue therapies like myofascial release, to help alleviate muscle tension and improve flexibility

  3. Pelvic floor rehabilitation exercises to strengthen and coordinate the pelvic floor muscles with the rest of the core

  4. Postural correction techniques to address any imbalances or compensatory patterns

  5. Nutritional and lifestyle modifications to support overall health and well-being

To conclude, thinking outside the box of "normal" conventional treatments that tend to focus only on the area of complaint, could be the missing key to not only successfully rehabilitating an injured joint but increasing your body's overall health. Assessing and correcting your pelvic floor dysfunction may be a contributing factor to fixing your shoulder pain. It is important to correct the root cause of your pain and take steps towards long-term relief and improved quality of life. Remember, when it comes to musculoskeletal health, it essential to consider the body as a whole and address underlying issues comprehensively for optimal outcomes.

Dr. Alfredo is a health enthusiast who’s goal is to help people and families live healthier, happier lives. My philosophy on health is simple - our body’s have the amazing ability and potential to self-adapt, self-regulate and THRIVE in this world.

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