Many people wrongly assume all Rotator Cuff Injuries require surgery...
The rotator Cuff is made up of 4 relatively small muscles that help to provide stability to the shoulder joint and aid in lifting and twisting the arm. These 4 muscles originate on the shoulder blade and attach via the CUFF to the top of the arm bone.
Many people falsely believe that all Rotator Cuff problems require surgery. I have personally worked on over 1000 people with Rotator Cuff injuries and have seen mostly wonderful outcomes provided the correct approach was taken.
The 2 main Rotator Cuff Injuries are tears and inflammation (aka tendonitis). Let's go through these two carefully because like most issues, there is more to the strory that many people don't know.
#1). Rotator Cuff Tears - The rotator cuff can tear from falls, sports injuries, and/or a lifetime of use. There is a spectrum of tearing from minor to major or partial to complete. Most people will develop some tearing or fraying of the rotator cuff over time which may be painful but often is not. (Many people ave rotator cuff tears and never know it!)
#2). Rotator Cuff Inflammation - Inflammation in the rotator cuff is almost always combined with inflammation of the bursae sacks above and below it. This combination is called impingement syndrome and is the most common source of shoulder pain.
Impingement syndrome is Rotator Cuff Tendonitis and Bursitis. Impingement Syndrome is typically very painful and is commonly felt as shoulder pain when lifting the arm away from the body.
A simple test - Raise your arm straight away from your body while standing. If your pain is greater on the way up compared to lowering the arm back down, your problem is likely impingement syndrome and not a tear. If the pain is worse bringing the arm back down, then a tear is more likely. If you can't even move your arm at all then you probably have a frozen shoulder, which is a less common problem and doesn't involve the rotator cuff.
What to do...
If you have shoulder pain you undoubtedly have inflammation in your shoulder and you should ice. For mild to moderate shoulder problems ice can work wonders if done consistently.
Mobility - If you can increase your shoulder mobility with stretching this will almost certainly result in a decrease of pain.
If icing and stretching don't help or hurt to do, then you probably will require professional help. Mild to moderate musculoskeletal conditions respond favorably to self care, moderate to severe cases not so much.
When I see someone with shoulder problems I always focus on 3 aspects of the treatment.
1) - Increase mobility to the shoulder joint and shoulder blade.
2) - Increase mobility to the surrounding shoulder musculature.
3) - Use Laser Therapy to decrease inflammation and stimulate tissues to heal faster.
If the self care approach of stretching and icing aren't helping and you need help with your shoulder please don't hesitate to call my office at 651-430-3229 today.
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