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Keep Your Alignment

Disorders of the upper limb, such as tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and bursitis seem to most people to have nothing to do with the spine, but proper alignment and movement in the spine are essential to balance in the shoulder girdle, which consists of the shoulders, shoulder blades and upper back and neck.

The shoulder joint is unique in that the joint itself is very shallow. Its strength, integrity and balance depend largely on the surrounding muscles. An imbalance in the muscles running from the vertebrae in the neck or spine to the shoulder blade or to the arm can set the stage for tendonitis or bursitis because shoulder movement is limited in one or more directions.

Often tennis elbow or bursitis seem to begin for no apparent reason. A tennis player may have played the game for years with no trouble. Suddenly the elbow begins to be painful with certain movements and gradually gets worse with every game. The problem may be due to faulty function of one or more joints in the neck or upper back, or even in the low back. Such an imbalance can change the angle of the tennis stroke, bringing different muscles in to play and causing a problem. In the same way, the shoulder may become inflamed with bursitis or a rotator cuff problem, or the wrist may become swollen or irritated. The pain will usually increase with time and use unless the proper balance is restored to the spine.


Chiropractors are specialists in treatment of all the joints of the body, including wrists, elbows and shoulders, but in treating such disorders, a chiropractor will also pay close attention to the balance and proper movement of the spine. Alignment of the body’s framework is essential to correct the peripheral problem and prevent its return.

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