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Old 11-26-2010, 11:49 PM   #1
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Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

I am wondering if these symptoms point to rotator cuff issues, or if they are something else:

My left shoulder often gets a tender spot right on the top of the arm where the arm meets the shoulder, esp. after doing something strenuous with the arms, like raking leaves or vacuuming. I also have a tender spot near my shoulder blade, and there's a path from there to my shoulder and down to my elbow (which is quite tender too).

I often have trouble sleeping on that side as pressure on the bicep/tricep area is painful, even light pressure of a shirt seam is agonizing as it's quite hyper-sensitive.

I broke my foot a month ago, and at first I thought the shoulder/bicep/tricep/elbow pain was from the crutches, but my other arm has no problems at all, and the tenderness at the elbow and top of the arm at the shoulder was there before the crutches. I am thinking I had some rotator cuff stuff starting, and then the stress of being on crutches has just inflamed things.

Are these normal symptoms of rotator cuff? I've been to physio, and he was talking about the radial nerve, has done treatment, but it's not better. One treatment he did ended up with me unable to move my arm for 3 days (couldn't lift above my head), but with heat constantly for the 3 days, now that's OK, though it's still a bit sore.

Any advice on what it might be welcome. I'm not going to go to the doctor about it until I'm off crutches as I'm sure they'll just brush it off as related to that if I do.

Last edited by michlei; 11-26-2010 at 11:50 PM.

 
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:34 PM   #2
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

Hey, having problems with my rotator cuff but what you're saying sounds more like bursitis...Used to get it when I was a kid and comes back occasionally....The only reason I
don't think it's a rotator cuff injury is because you can't touch the pain..it's more of a movement ouch...I'm not a doctor but I hope this helps..

Last edited by moderator2; 12-09-2010 at 09:05 PM. Reason: please do not quote when you are the first to reply

 
Old 12-09-2010, 09:09 PM   #3
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

Yeah, bursitis might make sense too. I just got a cortisone shot for bursitis in my knee. What would cause it in my shoulder though? It could be that as now that I can weight bear a bit more, my shoulder doesn't hurt near as much, except when I have to do the full crutch thing (like outside in the snow), then I can feel it near my shoulder blade again especially.

Would crutches cause bursitis? My knee bursitis was caused as a result of torn meniscus and the resulting scope surgery.

 
Old 12-09-2010, 09:53 PM   #4
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

You said you had cortisone in your knee... From what I've lived and heard steroids legal or not can actually hurt other joints in your body... I had ulcerative colitis 20 years ago and after steroid/cortisone treatments my hip went out to the point i could hardly walk.. Like I said I'm not a doctor just a chick who has had my share of problems.. Give it some ice and time and if you're anything like me it should go away in no time...Good luck !

 
Old 12-09-2010, 10:51 PM   #5
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

It does sound like possible bursitis and/or tendonitis. Use of the crutches could be exasperating some inflammation in your shoulder and bicep. I found great relief from a cortizone shot in my rotator cuff. In fact, my ortho used that as a diagnostic.

Do you have any problems with range of motion? Do you have any pain or problems when you raise your arm to the side, in front or above your head?

You might want to alternate ide with the ice to help with inflammation.

 
Old 12-10-2010, 09:22 AM   #6
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

How about a little anatomy lesson. You have 2 joints in the shoulder. The big one where your shoulder fits into the joint at the shoulder, the small one on top of the shoulder called the AC joint(acromio-clavicular joint) where the collarbone and shoulder blade come together to support the shoulder muscles that move the upper arm. This is the main source of most shoulder problems.

Muscles attach to the bone via tendons. The chest/upper back muscles attach to the upper arm by tendons that go over the AC joint(think of the tendons as going over a pulley). To keep the tendons well lubricated, there is a huge bursa under the AC joint, under the tendons. There are more bursas around the upper shoulder to keep the muscles working well too. So you can get bursitis, tendinitis and arthritis in that area on top of the shoulder. And then we women wear bras which tend to put pressure right on that spot as well.

Docs can tell which is which but doing a couple of things. If the pain in that area is all the time, then it's most likely the bursa. If it only hurts with movement, then it's the tendons. Arthritis needs x-rays or an MRI to determine but pain not relieved by a cortisone shot is a sign. A cortisone shot in that bursa can really help. They hesitate to inject the tendons there as they can rupture if you aren't super careful with the arm for a good 10 days after. Surgery is the best way to fix the arthritis. Cortisone shots in the bursas in the shoulder(deltoid bursa etc.) are also very beneficial. They can also inject the rotator cuff tendons deep inside the shoulder and that helps too.

The rotator cuff is 4 muscles that are interior to the bicep, tricep and deltoid muscles. It's function is to make your arm rotate. Hang your arm straight down and then turn it so the palm of your hand goes from one side to the other...almost a full 360* of rotation....that is their function. To see if you've torn the tendons attaching the muscles(a torn rotator cuff), try raising your arm straight out to the side. If you can't get it above shoulder height, you may have a partial or full tear of one of the tendons. The other 3 are harder to test for but constant pain, especially when you lay on that side is a symptoms worth looking into. Could be bursitis or a tendon tear.

It used to be thought that cortisone shots could damage joints but that is no longer true. HOWEVER, a cortisone shot into a tendon can cause the tendon to rupture if you aren't careful with the joint for a good 10 days after the shot(it lasts that long). Bursa shots can cause a lot of pain for the first 2 days but then will feel better.

Ironically, it's the arthritis in the AC join that can cause the bursitis and tendinitis and even bone spurs can dig into the tendons and cause the tendons to rupture. If the build up of bone spurs get bad enough, they can go in with a scope and remove the end of the collar bone, opening up the joint and removing the bone spurs.

If you do tear a rotator cuff tendon, be prepared for about 5-6 months of treatment. The latest form of care is to repair the tendon and then wait for about 3 months for a good blood supply to come back and the tendon to heal and then do the PT to strengthen the tendon. They used to do the PT right after and people re-tore the tendon over and over again(had a neighbor get the same tendon done 7 times). It finally dawned on them that exercising a newly repaired tendon made it break again. Let the stupid thing heal! And tendons take months to heal. So be prepared for a time consuming process and run from any doc who wants to do the PT immediately. They are behind on the latest therapy.

I've had the AC surgery on both shoulders and a torn rotator cuff on the right shoulder. I have a partial tear on the left that will need surgery but I'm waiting for it to go completely before I have the surgery.

And always make sure your neck is okay before you do any kind of surgery. I went through all of this only to find out that most of my pain was coming from bad disks in my neck. So I had that fixed too.finally my shoulders don't hurt.

Hope this helps. I've learned it all the hard way.

Jenny

 
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Old 12-10-2010, 11:20 AM   #7
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

Quote:
Originally Posted by montymash View Post
You said you had cortisone in your knee... From what I've lived and heard steroids legal or not can actually hurt other joints in your body... I had ulcerative colitis 20 years ago and after steroid/cortisone treatments my hip went out to the point i could hardly walk.. Like I said I'm not a doctor just a chick who has had my share of problems.. Give it some ice and time and if you're anything like me it should go away in no time...Good luck !
I had symptoms before I got the cortisone shot, so don't think that is an issue. It is much better now than it was when I originally posted, but still aggravated by the crutches if I have to do the full crutch thing (one leg use, as when I go outside in the snow). I will see what it does when I'm off crutches, hopefully within 2 weeks.

 
Old 12-10-2010, 11:29 AM   #8
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

Quote:
Originally Posted by jennybyc View Post
The rotator cuff is 4 muscles that are interior to the bicep, tricep and deltoid muscles. It's function is to make your arm rotate. Hang your arm straight down and then turn it so the palm of your hand goes from one side to the other...almost a full 360* of rotation....that is their function. To see if you've torn the tendons attaching the muscles(a torn rotator cuff), try raising your arm straight out to the side. If you can't get it above shoulder height, you may have a partial or full tear of one of the tendons. The other 3 are harder to test for but constant pain, especially when you lay on that side is a symptoms worth looking into. Could be bursitis or a tendon tear.

It used to be thought that cortisone shots could damage joints but that is no longer true. HOWEVER, a cortisone shot into a tendon can cause the tendon to rupture if you aren't careful with the joint for a good 10 days after the shot(it lasts that long). Bursa shots can cause a lot of pain for the first 2 days but then will feel better.

...

Hope this helps. I've learned it all the hard way.

Jenny
Wonderful information! In raising my arm straight out to the side, it goes somewhat about shoulder height, but nowhere near as far as the other side. It isn't pain that stops it, it just won't go beyond that. I do have trouble sometimes sleeping on that shoulder -- it aches when I put pressure on it. I also have pain in it when using it for anything (eg crutches).

The physio did work on my neck too as he mentioned that about necks being related to shoulders. He said I was a bit tight on that side, so would definitely work on that too.

As for being careful after cortisone shots, I remember that after my knee. And I remember how it hurt for a couple days or so -- unfortunately, I only enjoyed about 3 pain-free days after the shot, 3 blissful days of finally having no pain in my knee ... and then stepped off a curb wrong and broke my foot in 2 places, so have been on crutches since then.

I don't think my shoulder is at the point of needing surgery or anything, but since I'm the type to let things go sometimes too long, is there a point where I should consider it before my shoulder get too far gone (if it can get too far gone that is?)?

 
Old 12-14-2010, 08:49 AM   #9
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

Sorry to take so long in getting back to you. Been sick...the throwing up type....not conducive to being on the computer!

My left shoulder is the same as yours....goes up but not all the way and I know from the collarbone surgery that I had a partial tear in there that may have finally ruptured but I'm in no rush to fix it.

When to look into it? I'd say when your range of motion starts to decrease. When you find that you can't use the shoulder for much and it hurts no matter what you do and aches 24/7, then get it fixed.

If you wait too long, you risk developing a "frozen shoulder". That is when you get so much tendinitis in the shoulder tendons that they stop functioning and your shoulder muscles "freeze". Very painful to fix.

Question.......can you raise your arm to the front and then rotate it to the side when up? This is a way to keep those muscles "not working" to work somewhat with extra help from the biceps. Keeps you from freezing.

So keep the arm moving in all areas as best you can but when it becomes too painful to do, then time to get it fixed. Don't be "tough"....you will regret it. Just be sensible.


does this help?

hugs................Jenny

 
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:28 AM   #10
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

Jenny: Yes that does help. I thought at first it was the crutches causing problems, and while they may have moved it along quicker than it would have otherwise, it seems to be not aggravated only by crutches now as I'm pretty much off them, and when I do use them, not much weight on arms at all. I notice now that when I move my arm forward and back is when it hurts. Silly things seem to aggravate it -- sitting at the table wrapping Christmas presents for example. The pain isn't excruciating but it's sore all the time. Sometimes I can't move my arm about shoulder height when it's out to the side, other times I can. Depends on how much I've been using my arm, I think. My shoulder also "clicks" alot when I first move it around (the other shoulder does too though). I get my cast off my broken foot today, so not in any rush to have anything "done" to me -- been laid up enough this year with my knee and now my foot. However, if it's still sore regularly/constantly in the new year, I will see the doctor. Relucant to try physio as when I went a couple weeks ago, my shoulder was much worse afterward. I couldn't move it at all for 2 days.

 
Old 12-14-2010, 10:30 AM   #11
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

Question.......can you raise your arm to the front and then rotate it to the side when up? This is a way to keep those muscles "not working" to work somewhat with extra help from the biceps. Keeps you from freezing.

Forgot to answer this: Yes I can, but it feels very "tight" when I do that. Much tighter than the other shoulder doing the same thing.

 
Old 12-14-2010, 01:19 PM   #12
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

Seems like you are starting to get that problem of tendons and muscles not working so you have to watch it.

I know some of the Canadian health care system(brother in Kelowna, BC)so I know you have to get a referral to an ortho so why not start the process of getting a referral to a shoulder surgeon. Once you get that far, you can do an MRI...that will confirm the tear hopefully(or the other way around...MRI and then surgeon referral). Then you can talk about surgery and decide how long you'd like to wait.....and chances are there will be a wait for it anyhow....it's elective surgery. By the time you get in line for surgery, you will probably want it.

The Canadian system may move slowly but it does move and everyone gets what they need. We Americans are way too impatient!

Jenny

 
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:31 PM   #13
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

Quote:
Originally Posted by jennybyc View Post
Seems like you are starting to get that problem of tendons and muscles not working so you have to watch it.

I know some of the Canadian health care system(brother in Kelowna, BC)so I know you have to get a referral to an ortho so why not start the process of getting a referral to a shoulder surgeon. Once you get that far, you can do an MRI...that will confirm the tear hopefully(or the other way around...MRI and then surgeon referral). Then you can talk about surgery and decide how long you'd like to wait.....and chances are there will be a wait for it anyhow....it's elective surgery. By the time you get in line for surgery, you will probably want it.

The Canadian system may move slowly but it does move and everyone gets what they need. We Americans are way too impatient!

Jenny
Thanks Jenny. I live in BC too, a bit more east of Kelowna in Golden. We don't have any orthos here, and no MRI either, so I would need to be referred. I mentioned it to the doctor today when I was in for what I thought was going to be my cast removal (not to be ...) and have some dicloflenac (Voltaren prescription strength) which I'll use until I lose the crutches. If it continues to bother me after I'm not using crutches, then I'll pursue it further. Just not ready to have something else on my plate at the moment! LOL

 
Old 01-23-2011, 12:34 PM   #14
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Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

I have shoulder and arm soreness which sounds like rotator cuff symptons. Pain originating from the top of the soulder joint and radiating down both sides of my arm into my forearm and wrist. This started about 4 months ago and the pain was manageable, but since I have returned to yoga (carefully) and have started home PT the pain has gotten much worse. I also hot pack the area often which seems to help. A hot shower in the a.m. is also helpful. Yoga seemed to releave some pain and definately stiffness, but am now wondering if I should do nothing but some mild home PT. Any advise?

I also had the same problem with the other shoulder which lasted about a year (but not as painful), but healed with careful PT.

 
Old 01-23-2011, 06:41 PM   #15
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Smile Re: Rotator Cuff Symptoms??

Sounds like you probably have a tear in your shoulder and they don't usually get better on their own..I went for x-rays and an ultrasound and am now waiting for surgery on my right arm.. The good news for you is that you are keeping your arm mobile (I was told to put mine in a sling and now have to get PT for range of motion)... I would speak to your doctor and find out what the next step for you is..and don't do any lifting or weight bearing exercises in the mean time. Ice works really well I find..Hope this helps and good luck !

 
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