"But I have a Rotator Cuff Tear..."
The above sentence is usually followed by a few variations.
'But I have a Rotator Cuff tear and they said I HAVE to have surgery.'
'But I have a Rotator Cuff tear, nothing else can possibly help.'
'But I have a Rotator Cuff tear, Laser Therapy can't heal that.'
'But I have a Rotator Cuff tear, I can't do that anymore.'
I have news for you, actually its a secret. Listen closely.
One of the biggest myths in health care is that the
only way to treat a Rotator Cuff tear is with surgery.
"Wait, if it's torn and its not repaired how can the pain go away?"
This is where the first mistake is usually made and it happens like this. You have shoulder pain and go to the doctor. The Doctor orders an MRI. The MRI shows a tear. The pain must be from the tear so let's do surgery.
Not so fast!
Did you know that most people over the age of 50 have tearing in their rotator cuffs and don't even know it because they don't have pain or restriction?
In fact, a lot of times the rotator cuff tear had been there for years and the pain is coming from another source all together.
I've treated over 1000 people with shoulder pain over the last 15+ years and many if not most of them had rotator cuff tears. And guess what? They get better.
How can this be you ask?
The rotator cuff is only one component of the shoulder. It's actually a small piece of the overall puzzle. For the average person who just wants to live a pain free life and do the activities they want without pain, the rotator cuff is the least of their worries.
Pain in the shoulder almost always comes from a combination of these three things.
#1) Inflammation - there are multiple tissues that get inflamed in the shoulder including the muscles, tendons, joint, bursae, etc.
#2) Limited Motion - Of all the people I've seen with shoulder pain, I HAVE NEVER seen someone with shoulder pain that had full Range of Motion. Regardless of the diagnosis of rotator cuff tears, arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis or any other 'itis' for that matter, shoulders will hurt if they don't move properly. Period.
#) Scar Tissue Adhesions - When the tissues of the shoulder are inflamed and not moving properly overtime they get sticky and adhere to one another. These adhesions are made of scar tissue and basically lock the shoulder so it can't move properly. This is the primary reason most of these problems won't just get better on their own.
The secret sauce here is addressing all three of these problems at the same time. You cannot just treat one or two of the three.
As we have talked about in previous blog posts, every condition comes in the three forms of mild, moderate, and severe.
Mild shoulder problems can most times be treated with ice, stretching, and exercise.
Moderate and severe shoulder problems are the ones I typically see and treat with a combination of Laser Therapy and other techniques to increase motion.
I don't think anyone would choose to have shoulder surgery and go through the time in a sling and rehab if they didn't have to. There are options that actually work if you know about them.