Dr. David Jolson

Greenville’s Dr. Jolson helping a patient with shoulder pain treatmentGreenville’s Non-Surgical Shoulder Pain Doctor

Dr. Jolson combines principles from extensive training in the medical profession, chiropractic, physical therapy, and sports performance to rapidly resolve shoulder pain without drugs or surgery.

Dr. Jolson is unlike any chiropractor in Greenville SC due to his unique training. He interned with his mentor and father, Dr. Scott Jolson, MD, sports medicine shoulder specialist and orthopedic surgery consultant for the Cincinnati Reds. He also spent time learning from Dr. Ben Kibler, MD, a renowned researcher on scapular dyskinesis and shoulder dysfunction.

Additionally, Dr. Jolson trained with Dr. Brett Winchester, non-surgical shoulder guru and chiropractor for the St. Louis Cardinals. Learning from the best has helped Dr. Jolson understand the full spectrum of shoulder care – from surgery and invasive treatments to the best non-surgical options.

Dr. Jolson continues to pursue a growing list of shoulder certifications, diagnostic tools, and therapy techniques. Dr. Jolson has presented shoulder injury prevention and biomechanical seminars for local athletic teams and businesses. Dr. Jolson is the official chiropractor for PGA Tour pros and the local Hincapie Racing Team.


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Shoulder Pain

Though the pain is felt in the shoulder girdle region, the first step in assessment is to determine if the cause is the shoulder itself, or if there’s a secondary contributor to the problem. The pain we feel — whether in the neck, the shoulder(s), or down the arm(s) — is the body’s request for change, not an indication something is broken or needing to be “fixed.” By taking the time to understand the problem and how it behaves, we can apply the right tool for the job to achieve a rapid solution.

What it is

Shoulder pain is most commonly of mechanical nature, e.g., movement, postures, body mechanics. If your shoulder pain changes — for better or worse — with varying movements and positions accompanied by stiffness or loss of range of motion, you likely are suffering from mechanical pain.

Acute shoulder pain is an episode lasting no longer than six weeks, which is more common than chronic shoulder pain lasting longer than three months.

Because the nerve supply to your shoulders and arms stems from the spinal cord within the spinal column, poor cervical spine (neck) mechanics can alter the signals from your brain to the shoulder muscles via nerve pathways. It is common to experience shoulder symptoms when the neck is the source.

Shoulder Pain | Highlighted in blue are nerves supplying arm muscles commonly affected by a shoulder or neck problem.

Highlighted in blue are nerves supplying arm muscles commonly affected by a shoulder or neck problem.

We have successfully treated many diagnoses where the source of the problem is located at the shoulder. Examples include:

  • Rotator Cuff Tendinitis/Tear
  • Shoulder Impingement
  • Labral Tear
  • Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder)
  • Shoulder Osteoarthritis
  • Bicipital Tendonitis
  • Subacromial Bursitis
  • Shoulder Instability

To be clear, we do not correct tears and arthritis. Above are standard labels placed on patients, which we have successfully treated, regardless of the diagnosis — call it “misdiagnosis” if you will. The problem with these diagnoses is they simply tell you what it is, not how or why it occurred or how to correct it. Furthermore, there’s no standard of diagnosis among professionals.

In rare cases, shoulder pain can indicate a serious medical problem — such as a heart attack — requiring immediate attention.

If you suffered direct trauma to the shoulder, or experience dizziness, double vision, difficulty speaking/swallowing, direct trauma, or unexplained weight loss accompanied by shoulder pain, seek immediate medical attention.

What it isn’t

The pain we feel is simply a request from our brain to change. Pain does not equate to damage, rather an alert we need to change our physical behavior or else physical impairment will proceed.

Mechanical shoulder pain does not have to be debilitating!

Your rotator cuff could be “degenerative” and “partial tearing” regardless of whether or not you have pain. If you’re over fifty years old, it would be abnormal not to have degeneration!

Just because you have shoulder pain doesn’t mean you need an MRI. If your MRI shows “tearing,” “degeneration,” or “arthritis”, that doesn’t mean it’s generating your pain. And just because you have shoulder pain does not mean you’re broken or need to be “fixed.”

The medical literature is concluding most degeneration and arthritis shouldn’t be scary — it’s nothing more than “gray hair” and “wrinkles” on the inside, similarly to normal aging on the outside.

In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary! It’s important to first rule out all non-surgical options first to increase the likelihood of a successful surgery.

Research from shoulder VOMIT (Victims of Medical Information Technology)

Research from shoulder VOMIT (Victims of Medical Information Technology)

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Mechanical shoulder pain is most commonly caused by faulty body mechanics, repetitive use without appropriate rest, and poor postural habits. Most shoulder pain has cervical spine (neck) involvement, whether as the source, or a secondary issue.

Humans are meant to move and move often — not sit in chairs and stare at electronic screens for hours on end. From infancy through the first year of life, we learn to how to move, setting us up for the rest of our lives.

Mechanical shoulder pain can occur suddenly from a particular incident, or can gradually over time for no apparent reason. The pain can occur from rigorous use during sport, or as simple as lifting a storage box overhead to the top shelf.

Pain from sport or reaching overhead is not because the activity is inherently dangerous, rather accumulated stress results in such an imbalance the brain sends pain as a request for change. Otherwise, a serious structural problem may occur if continuing to ignore the signal.

Body Mechanics: The shoulder needs efficient body mechanics as it relies primarily on its supportive musculature for function. The shoulder joint is a very shallow ball-and-socket — like a golf ball on a tee — and the only bony connection to the torso is where the collarbone meets the chest!

17 different muscles attach to the shoulder blade, while the only bony connection is the clavicle to the sternum.

For various reasons, we have upper trapezius dominance: the propensity to hike the shoulders up toward our ears when utilizing horizontal and vertical push/pull functions. Shoulder hiking is extremely inefficient where accumulative stress causing mechanical neck and shoulder pain is one of the most common causes. 

shoulder jointRepetitive Use
Overuse of a specific function, like a baseball pitcher throwing or a painter painting a ceiling, will cause fatigue of supportive musculature increasing the risk of an imbalance or injury resulting in mechanical pain.

Postural Habits
Think about the average desk worker’s day: sit for breakfast, sit in the car to work, sit at the desk, sit for lunch, back to sitting at the desk, sit in the car back home, sit in front of the T.V. — you get the point.

Sitting promotes a forward posture, creating an imbalance in the neck and shoulders which is commonly a cause of mechanical pain.

What You Can Do About Shoulder Pain

With all mechanical pain, there’s a ‘what’ and a ‘why’ — what the problem is and why it’s occurring in the first place. To achieve resolution it’s crucial to not only identify and correct the problem at hand but address the behaviors which lead to the issue’s occurrence. Here are some self-help tips:

  • Keep moving
  • Avoid sitting for longer than 30-minutes at a time
  • Sit with upright posture with lumbar support
  • Take micro-breaks: stretch, take a stroll, grab a snack, move around
  • Learn proper shoulder & lifting mechanics
  • Take mental notes of what you are doing when your pain feels better or worse to identify any behavioral patterns

Still Struggling  with Shoulder Pain?

Dr. Jolson can help you find the solution to your issue, whether that’s here at our clinic or referring you to the Greenville physician who can best help you. Dr. J is not your typical chiropractor in Greenville SC – his approach isn’t to just “fix” the problem, rather understand what it is and what it isn’t so the correct treatment is applied to the right problem — only then can we achieve a solution. Why use a hammer if you’re not positive it’s a nail? The last thing you want is to hammer away at a screw!

Dr. Jolson initiates treatment for shoulder pain by utilizing the Mckenzie Method (MDT). MDT is a proven system of examination, treatment, and classification of spinal, joint, and other musculoskeletal pain, backed by years of research, evidence, and practice. The System has been shown to be low cost, fast, and effective even for chronic pain.

Dr. Jolson is also the only chiropractor in South Carolina certified in Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization, which he uses to strengthen the shoulder. He also uses Active Release Technique and other soft tissue therapies like FAKTR & the TheraGun. There are many different approaches to select from and he will find the right tool to get you back to what you love ASAP.