Typically, when people think of osteopathic treatment, they picture back pain, neck pain, and headaches, as strong research supports osteopathic treatment for these problems. But what about shoulder pain care with Osteopathic therapy?
The Government conducted ground-breaking reports in 2010 and again in 2014 that examined previously published work on various forms of treatment for many disorders, both musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal (like asthma). These reviews noted that the use of Osteopathic treatment with respect to shoulder-related conditions including pain / dysfunction in the shoulder girdle, rotator cuff pain, and adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) is supported by scientific evidence.
As osteopaths seek treatment for patients with shoulder pain, care generally focuses on improving shoulder range of movement using various manipulative and mobilising methods aimed at the three shoulder joints: The glenohumeral joint (ball & socket joint), the acromioclavicular joint (AC) and the scapulothoracic joint (shoulder blade & rib cage). Osteopathic care may also include exercise training to restore mobility, energy, and stability to the muscles and soft tissues that surround the shoulder region. During various stages of recovery following shoulder injury a variety of physical therapy modalities are also used as adjudicative techniques in many osteopathy settings. Treatment is aimed during restoring patients to their normal level of everyday activity.
But what about after surgery with shoulder pain? Can osteopathy continue to help? A study conducted in 2018 found that post-surgical patients receiving mid-back (thoracic spine) manipulation had significant increases in shoulder movement (flexion and abduction) and increased space measurements (neutral and outward rotation). The authors cited other studies that reported similar improvements in shoulder mobility as well as the kinematics (movement & stability) of the shoulder blade (scapular).
Another study examined improvements in pain in the shoulder, impairment and perceived rehabilitation in patients with shoulder pain following two sessions of upper thoracic and upper rib manipulation. In all criteria tested, which lasted for up to three months, participants reported significant improvement here, too.
Given the solid research support of manual therapies aimed not only at the shoulder but also at the neck, upper and mid-back spinal regions, Osteopathic care is simply a must for patients with shoulder pain!