Your shoulder hurts. It’s deep inside and hard to explain where the pain is coming from. It may be dull or suddenly become sharp with certain movements. You may experience limited movement of your shoulder or not. Oftentimes, patients find it harder to sleep on the affected side. This is rotator cuff pain.
What is your rotator cuff?
Your rotator cuff is actually a group of muscles in your shoulder. These muscles help your shoulder joint to stay in place and of course also help your shoulder move in a variety of direction. It’s a complex area, with tendons, muscles, and bone, all coming together in an area that moves almost every time you move.
What kinds of injuries usually cause rotator cuff pain?
There are three main types of injuries to your rotator cuff that will cause you discomfort and pain:
• Rotator cuff impingement
Impingement occurs when something – usually bone or muscle – presses on a tendon. This can be painful and can also cause limited movement in the shoulder area.
• Rotator cuff tear
While tears can occur due to long-term overuse, they most often occur as a result of a sudden movement. You will likely feel a sharp pain that may subside into a dull ache. Depending on the severity of the tear, you may or may not have trouble moving your arm. In some cases, tears will heal on their own. In other more serious cases, rotator cuff tears will require a surgical solution.
• Rotator cuff tendinitis
Tendinitis – inflammation of the tendon – usually occurs from overuse. It can be chronic if not treated appropriately.
Who is likely to experience a rotator cuff injury?
Like many injuries, anyone can experience a rotator cuff injury. But certain factors, hobbies, and professions make it more likely that you will experience a rotator cuff injury at some point. There are two factors we can’t control. The first is age. As we age, our body parts are more likely to experience an injury. That’s simply the reality of life! And, if a few people in your family have had rotator cuff injuries, it’s more likely that you will have one too.
Certain hobbies and professions are magnets for rotator cuff injuries. Any baseball fan can tell you that pitchers are frequently out for part or all of the season due to rotator cuff injuries. Tennis players, swimmers, archers, and basketball players also have a tendency to suffer from rotator cuff injuries that have build up over time from the repetitive shoulder motions required in these sports, or as a result of a sudden injury. Similarly, people in professions who use their shoulders for strength or in a repeated fashion are likely to suffer from rotator cuff injuries. Carpenters and painters are the most frequent sufferers of job-related rotator cuff injuries.
How can chiropractic help ease rotator cuff pain?
Chiropractic care can help address many of the causes of rotator cuff pain. Your chiropractor has a number of tools and techniques to help your injury heal, including applying electrotherapy to the injury area, massage, and prescribing gentle stretching and strengthening exercises as you regain your ability to use your shoulder.
As your injury heals, it is important to add movement into your healing process at an appropriate point. This will ensure that you do not lose flexibility or strength. When an injury heals but has been immobilized the entire time, the result can be stiffness, loss of range of motion, and loss of strength. For these patients, re-injury is much more likely than it is for patients who heal fully but also work on flexibility and strength.
While chiropractors do not perform surgery, they can provide helpful post-surgical care for some patients. In addition to helping strengthen the injured area once it is healed, chiropractors can also help patients deal with the aches and pains that come with having on arm in a sling for a number of weeks, which is likely the case after rotator cuff surgery. Keeping the rest of your body is good physical condition – and maybe even improving your body’s physical condition – while a certain area heals can help support the healing process and ensure that no other injuries occur while the original injury is healing.
If you are experiencing pain in your rotator cuff area, call our offices today to schedule an appointment with one of our chiropractors. Your doctor will perform a thorough examination of the area where you are experiencing pain and will help you decide on a course of action that will allow you to live a pain-free life.