Many Truckers Experience Shoulder Pain

You know, I see a lot of drivers during the year with the same problem – ‘trucker’s shoulder’.

What the heck is ‘trucker’s shoulder’?

A repetitive strain injury

It’ a repetitive strain injury that builds up over time in long distance drivers. It occurs because OTR drivers use their left arm predominantly to steer the truck for long periods of time. I figured it out once that the average driver pulls about 9,900 lbs a day just to adjust for the built-in pitch on the road and keep the truck steered in a straight line.

Often misdiagnosed

Early this week I had a woman driver from New Mexico come in with ‘trucker’s shoulder’. She said she had had three different doc’s take a look at her shoulder and they all came up with different diagnoses – torn rotator cuff, shoulder strain / sprain, bursitis, arthritis, and old age. Unfortunately when the condition is misdiagnosed, the prescribed treatment will not address the cause. Sometimes the treatment prescribed may be unnecessary and expensive surgery, which the driver may try to avoid and just live with the problem.

So I did a session of active release technique on this patient, and she was thrilled with the difference it made in her back, shoulder and arm.

Experienced by many drivers

Then 10 minutes later another woman comes into my office. She says she was in the truck stop restaurant talking to the woman from New Mexico and she had the same type of problem with her upper back and shoulder. She also said that lots of people had looked at it and she’d heard all sorts of weird diagnoses. I worked the injured area to release the bound up tissues and told her what she needed to know to help reduce the pain and prevent further onset of ‘trucker’s shoulder’.

She left a happy woman. Only to send me another driver, a man this time, with the same thing. So I worked with him and gave him the same explanation so he could give his shoulder a break and get it back to normal.

Can be treated and prevented

‘Trucker’s shoulder’ is prevalent among long distance drivers. Pain is the last thing to show up and the problem can be can be very distracting and sometimes debilitating. It can also start to cause pain to radiate into the upper arm, shoulder and may cause numbness in the hand, usually the thumb and first two fingers.

Understanding the cause of ‘trucker’s shoulder’ – that it builds up through repetitive strain – and then knowing how to treat and take preventative measures can go a long way to relieve back pain and give you back strength and range of motion in your shoulder and arm. Here at the Chiro Stop we work with OTR drivers to help them resolve ‘trucker’s shoulder’ and the onset of this painful problem.

If we can help you we will. If we can’t help your condition, we’ll tell you that too.

Be well.

Doc Kenn

Leave a comment


  1. Herman Tibbs

     /  October 22, 2015

    Those are my symptoms and in addition my pain extends into the pectoris major and minor muscles.

  2. Trucker Doc

     /  May 28, 2013

    The shoulder problems come about by using the arm and shoulder for steering the truck for extended periods of time.
    The secret is to take the steering hand off the steering wheel every 15 or 20 minutes and do most anything else, in the way of movement, for 30 seconds or so while driving. The steering arm sees this as a break and rest cycle, giving the muscles in the shoulder a break.
    Hope this helps answer your question. Thanks for the question. Trucker Doc.

  3. Karen

     /  May 27, 2013

    My husband is a new at truck driving but has been experiencing pain in should and upper back we read the article on trucker shoulder and believe this is what he has how is there certain stretches and exercise that he can do to prevent this

  4. Trucker Doc

     /  December 22, 2012

    Well, if the shoulder was rehabbed correctly, then there should be no real problems. Truckers shoulder is a gradual, slow, repetitive injury brought about by insufficient rest periods. Pre-existing conditions may be affected by the routine of repetitive injury found within the driving profession. So, good rehab, no problems. Not so good rehab, potential for problems further down the line.
    Thanks for the question. Trucker Doc

  5. Waylon Rader

     /  December 20, 2012

    I have had three shoulder surgeries in the past two years. I was wondering what your professional opinion is on the chances of re-injury based on your experience with “trucker’s shoulder.”
    Waylon Rader

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