Shoulder pain
 
One of the primary reasons I got into the profession of upper cervical care is because of my chronic shoulder issues.  I was in two car accidents, one at 9 and another at 17.  A few years after my second accident, I developed really bad upper back and shoulder issues.  It got to the point where I could expect to be in pain from the middle of the day to the time I went to bed.  The year before I had my first upper cervical correction, I pretty much was either in pain or really uncomfortable for about 85-90% of the time I was awake.  Luckily, I had a high tolerance for pain, so I just figured I'd be living with it.  I was getting general chiropractic adjustments up to three times a day...what we at Logan College referred to as a "crack" junkie.  I had ribs manipulated, my shoulder joints cracked and popped, frequent massages, physical therapy modalities, ice and heat...the whole nine yards short of popping pain meds. 
 
Apparently, I'm not the only one to have gone through this, as shoulder pain is one of the most common ailments in the world.  Well, I tried it all and it all failed. 
 
Then, I met an upper cervical doctor who moved a bone in my neck and changed my life...
 
I tell my story now because I rarely tell that story.  I know a lot of people who have been helped through upper cervical care with much better stories than mine.  Irritable Bowel, Crohn's, and other digestive problems...Chronic headaches and fatigue...High blood pressure...Fibromyalgia...Autism...Multiple Sclerosis...all gone or helped significantly through moving a bone in the upper neck and relieving the brainstem of the stress that was choking the life out of its ability to keep you alive and well...
 
But you know what, fellow shoulder pain sufferers?  It's time for our 15-minutes of fame! 
 
It's actually really simple. 
 
Have you ever hung a picture on the wall?  When that picture is level on the wall, it looks nice, it adds character to the room, and you rarely have to mess with it.  If you bang into the wall, though, it may tilt a little bit.  Just a little bit of tilt doesn't make too much of a difference to most folks.  Hey, you may not even notice.  Over time, though, a little thing called gravity kicks in, pulling the weight of the low side down even further.  Suddenly, what once was a barely noticeable tilt is quite an eye sore, it subtracts character from the room, and you definitely have to mess with it. 
 
Well, our heads are supposed to level on our necks.  When the head is level on the neck, it looks and feels nice, it adds stability to your posture, and you rarely have to mess with it.  If you fall, get in an accident, or bump your head, though, the head may tilt on the neck a little bit.  (Doctor's note- recall that the head has to be level for the fluid in our ears to be balanced so that we can maintain our equilibrium and not be dizzy all the time, and also because the brain has to be level to work properly).  Just a little bit of head tilt doesn't make too much of a difference to most folks, but as the body compensates to bring the head level, guess what else tilts?  That's right...the shoulders.  The head is level, but the shoulders are definitely NOT level.  But, hey, you still may not even notice.  Over time, though, a little thing called gravity kicks in, pulling the weight of the low shoulder down even further.  Suddenly, what once was a barely noticeable tilt creates for quite the painful days and nights, it subtracts stability from your posture, and you definitely have to mess with it.
 
The lesson to be learned is that when the top bone in the spine slides off to one side, it takes the head from a level to an un-level position, causing the body to compensate.  Part of that compensation is that it takes the shoulders from a level to an un-level position.  You'll end up with one shoulder higher than the other.  Now, at first glance that doesn't seem like a big deal.  Gravity, though, can feel like holding a 10 pound weight in one hand all day.  At first, you can easily deal with it, but give it a while and it becomes more and more difficult to deal with.  All it takes is a precise correction to the top bone in the spine to relieve that compensation and bring the shoulders level again.  Over time, as the body holds that level position, the chronic shoulder pain goes away.
 
I had chronic shoulder pain for 4 years.  After my first upper cervical adjustment, my shoulder pain went away and stayed away for 7 weeks.  Now, I still get shoulder pain from time to time.  Going back to the beginning this week's newsletter, though, I recognize it as a warning signal that my body is starting to compensate again and that I probably need to be adjusted.