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Old 01-30-2011, 12:03 PM   #1
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Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

Wondering if anyone has experienced pain and weakness in the elbow following a positive (MRI) diagnosis of rotator cuff tear. Here's my story:

Pain in upper right arm started last September. Began PT exercises in late November (initially misdiagnosed with tendinitis, which didn't resolve). MRI in December shows rotator cuff tear (or tears) in the supraspinatus tendon.

Shoulder and upper-arm pain progressively worsened during several weeks of PT, so last week stopped going (on the advice of the physical therapist) until my next appt. with sports ortho doc in late February. While going to PT, the pain spread from the initial point, to other areas of my shoulder and down toward the elbow. The pain was relieved only after 2-3 (or more) days off from the exercises.

Last week, started doing new exercises from the book Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff. The exercises are very gentle and take only several minutes to complete the entire (intermediate) routine. My shoulder does not complain much from these as it did from the previous routine.

I first noticed the pain in my elbow about 4 weeks ago. Since then, it has slowly worsened --- and today, it's the primary pain in my arm! The pain seems to be mostly in the outside (lateral) aspect of the elbow, in the area of the "funny bone", like I bumped my elbow VERY HARD --- except I didn't! Even the simplest of arm movements, like lifting a cup of coffee, are now very painful even at close range.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Does RC tear pain eventually migrate to the elbow?

 
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:27 PM   #2
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

I have had two left shoulder rotator cuff surgeries for the supraspinatus tendon. Both were long surgeries (in therapy for current surgery as we speak). I never had pain in the elbow from it. None of my rotator cuff pain went further then the middle of my bicep. I however also have had my ulnar nerve transpositioned which is right around the funny bone because it was entrapped but i had symptoms from that of numbness and tingling in the last two digits of my fingers. Not sure if any of this helps or not. If i explained anything wrong or u need more info let me know.

 
Old 02-22-2011, 01:40 PM   #3
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

Well, I finally know what's causing the pain in my elbow (same arm as RC tear):

Lateral epicondylitis, aka "tennis elbow". Doctor wants to treat that first with PT before addressing the shoulder issue, since the elbow now hurts more than the shoulder.

My left shoulder and elbow now have the same set of symptoms but to a MUCH lesser degree... so mild that I would not seek care for them, but just enough that I recognize them (probably a 1 on the pain scale of 1-10).

Last edited by RiderJen; 02-22-2011 at 01:40 PM.

 
Old 04-10-2011, 06:34 PM   #4
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

Quote:
Originally Posted by RiderJen View Post
Wondering if anyone has experienced pain and weakness in the elbow following a positive (MRI) diagnosis of rotator cuff tear. Here's my story:

Pain in upper right arm started last September. Began PT exercises in late November (initially misdiagnosed with tendinitis, which didn't resolve). MRI in December shows rotator cuff tear (or tears) in the supraspinatus tendon.

Shoulder and upper-arm pain progressively worsened during several weeks of PT, so last week stopped going (on the advice of the physical therapist) until my next appt. with sports ortho doc in late February. While going to PT, the pain spread from the initial point, to other areas of my shoulder and down toward the elbow. The pain was relieved only after 2-3 (or more) days off from the exercises.

Last week, started doing new exercises from the book Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff. The exercises are very gentle and take only several minutes to complete the entire (intermediate) routine. My shoulder does not complain much from these as it did from the previous routine.

I first noticed the pain in my elbow about 4 weeks ago. Since then, it has slowly worsened --- and today, it's the primary pain in my arm! The pain seems to be mostly in the outside (lateral) aspect of the elbow, in the area of the "funny bone", like I bumped my elbow VERY HARD --- except I didn't! Even the simplest of arm movements, like lifting a cup of coffee, are now very painful even at close range.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Does RC tear pain eventually migrate to the elbow?
I was having the same pain prior to my rotator cuff surgery and I am now 7wks post op and I must say the pain in my elbow is worse than before my surgery and is inhibiting my PT on my shoulder, my physical therapist thinks I have tendonitis in my elbow (and I agree) my OS thinks it will get better the more movement and therapy increases. Has your elbow pain decreased?
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Old 04-10-2011, 07:50 PM   #5
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

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Originally Posted by Irish59 View Post
I was having the same pain prior to my rotator cuff surgery and I am now 7wks post op and I must say the pain in my elbow is worse than before my surgery and is inhibiting my PT on my shoulder, my physical therapist thinks I have tendonitis in my elbow (and I agree) my OS thinks it will get better the more movement and therapy increases. Has your elbow pain decreased?
I'm sorry to read your condition is worse.

No, my elbow pain has not decreased, only worsened in spite of PT, stretches, working on my posture, and moderate rest. My ortho doc wants an MRI of my elbow to see what's going on since it has not improved after 5 weeks of PT. The pain is still much worse than my shoulder, since the involved tendon is impacted by even small movements of my fingers, hand, and wrist --- e.g. keyboard typing --- so my shoulder might be completely at rest for hours while I type at the keyboard all day at work.

I hope my MRI will lead to a definitive diagnosis and clarifies how to proceed.

Last edited by RiderJen; 04-10-2011 at 07:53 PM.

 
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Old 04-13-2011, 10:57 PM   #6
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

Hi my name is Linda and I have already had the surgery to repair the tears and yes I had odd elbow weakness. The doc did nt know why and said he never heard this symptom before. I had elbow surgery 10 years ago and said the weakness was from my previous surgery. My surgery was difficult due to more extensive damage than first thought. First 5 days very painful, however each day that passed the pain decreased. Any ? please ask away. Good luck Linda

 
Old 04-19-2011, 07:50 PM   #7
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

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Originally Posted by RiderJen View Post
I'm sorry to read your condition is worse.

No, my elbow pain has not decreased, only worsened in spite of PT, stretches, working on my posture, and moderate rest. My ortho doc wants an MRI of my elbow to see what's going on since it has not improved after 5 weeks of PT. The pain is still much worse than my shoulder, since the involved tendon is impacted by even small movements of my fingers, hand, and wrist --- e.g. keyboard typing --- so my shoulder might be completely at rest for hours while I type at the keyboard all day at work.

I hope my MRI will lead to a definitive diagnosis and clarifies how to proceed.
RiderJen,
I very much appreciate your postings, thank you. Did you get the MRI of your elbow, and if so, what was found?
I am experiencing very much the same symptoms. I injured my rotator cuff (collar bone-neck-left shoulder) at work in November 2010. The doctor released me without x-ray or MRI and said that no further action was necessary, that the pain should go away. However over time what has happened is that my elbow, my forearm and wrist have become extremely painful and as you say, just holding a cup of coffee or typing on a keyboard hurts. The pain in the lower arm feels like a burning and throbbing pain and stretching out my arm feels like something is popping (in or) out of place. The pain is present most of the time, but more so after a long day, laying in bed. I was beginning to think that this was a separate injury, or even carpel tunnel, but there is still simultaneous pain in the neck and shoulder, although it comes and goes and is insignificant next to the elbow area. So I finally returned to the doctor last week and he ordered physical therapy for me which I will begin this week. He began with a cortisone patch on my shoulder, but didn't seem too concerned about my elbow and lower arm. I'm one to stay away from cortisone if at all possible and am hoping that I can work this through with the right physical therapy.
Your posting helped me in that I will feel more confident in asking the P.T. to concentrate on the elbow and lower arm/wrist/hand. My first visit was only the evaluation and he concentrated only on my range of motion in my left shoulder, but nothing else.
I will let you know if I have any new information to share that might be of help.
Many thanks and best of luck!

 
Old 04-19-2011, 09:34 PM   #8
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

Hello nikongirl (I have a Nikon... unfortunately, it hurts my elbow to use it.)

My MRI was scheduled for last Friday. However, I came down with Shingles last week. What's next??!! Since an MRI requires lying perfectly still (a little movement will cause a blurry image) and Shingles is VERY painful, I postponed the MRI for this Friday, but I'll reschedule it yet again since the Shingles pain persists. When the pain is gone for good, I'll reschedule the MRI.

It's possible the doctor may be focusing on the shoulder because shoulder problems can affect the elbow -- however, I would ask him if that is his plan. Research the subject all you can, and go back with questions. Check out Rick Olderman's 'Fixing You' site -- he wrote some very sensible easy-to-read books including one for the elbow and shoulder with some simple and effective exercises and stretches that may help.

I'm sorry I don't have any new information about my own case. As soon as I learn something new, I'll post again. Meanwhile, I have decided to stop any PT exercises and give the elbow a rest for a while. A few people have told me they finally resorted to completely resting the elbow until the pain was gone, then began slowly rebuilding the strength, and now have very little pain. However, that may have worked for them and not for everyone.

I understand and share your frustration.

 
Old 04-20-2011, 07:15 AM   #9
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

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Originally Posted by RiderJen View Post
Hello nikongirl (I have a Nikon... unfortunately, it hurts my elbow to use it.) ha ha! funny but sad!

My MRI was scheduled for last Friday. However, I came down with Shingles last week. What's next??!! Since an MRI requires lying perfectly still (a little movement will cause a blurry image) and Shingles is VERY painful, I postponed the MRI for this Friday, but I'll reschedule it yet again since the Shingles pain persists. When the pain is gone for good, I'll reschedule the MRI.

It's possible the doctor may be focusing on the shoulder because shoulder problems can affect the elbow -- however, I would ask him if that is his plan. Research the subject all you can, and go back with questions. Check out Rick Olderman's 'Fixing You' site -- he wrote some very sensible easy-to-read books including one for the elbow and shoulder with some simple and effective exercises and stretches that may help.

I'm sorry I don't have any new information about my own case. As soon as I learn something new, I'll post again. Meanwhile, I have decided to stop any PT exercises and give the elbow a rest for a while. A few people have told me they finally resorted to completely resting the elbow until the pain was gone, then began slowly rebuilding the strength, and now have very little pain. However, that may have worked for them and not for everyone.

I understand and share your frustration.


RiderJen,
Shingles! What a drag, you poor thing! I've heard it's very painful, I hope you'll get better quickly.
I'll look into Rick Olderman's website and I intend to go back with more conviction, stressing the pain in the lower arm/elbow. I approached it as a shy afterthought thinking that because this was a work injury to my shoulder, I would be stretching it to tell him where my real pain was.
Thanks for the reinforcement and your quick response. Get well soon, and I'll keep you posted.
p.s. don't let your Nikon get rusty!

 
Old 04-28-2011, 01:27 PM   #10
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

I have read about prolotherapy, and also PRP (platelet rich plasma), to treat tennis elbow. I've also read it doesn't always work. Of course, surgery also doesn't have a 100% success rate, but I know my doctor is an excellent surgeon. I'd have to find a prolotherapist in my area and take my chances ... and if it doesn't work then I'm back to square one and healing is delayed even more. I've lost 6 months and growing more frustrated every week.

I

 
Old 04-28-2011, 01:39 PM   #11
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

jenj770: How did you find your prolotherapist? I'm going to give that serious consideration.

 
Old 05-10-2011, 09:30 PM   #12
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

Quote:
Originally Posted by RiderJen View Post
I'm sorry to read your condition is worse.

No, my elbow pain has not decreased, only worsened in spite of PT, stretches, working on my posture, and moderate rest. My ortho doc wants an MRI of my elbow to see what's going on since it has not improved after 5 weeks of PT. The pain is still much worse than my shoulder, since the involved tendon is impacted by even small movements of my fingers, hand, and wrist --- e.g. keyboard typing --- so my shoulder might be completely at rest for hours while I type at the keyboard all day at work.

I hope my MRI will lead to a definitive diagnosis and clarifies how to proceed.
It should be remembered that most lateral elbow pains, especially those without an elbow injury are referred from the cervical spine.
James

 
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:10 PM   #13
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

James, I've read that before. The doctor and PT did the tests to check for Lat Epi, and they were positive. About 20 years ago I had similar pain in my right forearm near the elbow, due to a pinched nerve in the trapezius area. That felt like hot burning pain, like sciatica but in my forearm near the elbow. The pain I have now is actually ON the lateral epicondyl, and in the muscle just below (that attaches to it) does not feel like nerve pain at all, but rather like the muscle itself is being pinched in a vice.

Last edited by RiderJen; 05-10-2011 at 10:15 PM.

 
Old 10-11-2011, 04:28 AM   #14
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

Hi There! I had surgery in febr. 2008 after like you say a quickly worsing pain all the way to my right cheek, fingers, terrible pain in my forearm. My PT says this is caused by the vascular sack in the shoulder joint it reacts to this torn supra by producing more fluid that presses on nerves. Now oct. 2011 I´m still using icepack on my shoulder 2x a day after exercising to help the vascular sack shrink. I also got a tennis elbow and a kind of stiffness in my elbow probably caused by this vascular sack. I use the icepack stiff frozen just for a while under hot water but it works and I can SLEEP again!

Last edited by mod85; 10-11-2011 at 06:28 PM.

 
Old 10-11-2011, 10:47 AM   #15
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Re: Elbow pain/weakness with rotator cuff tear

I don´t understand that you take the chance to "heal" yourself. The right way should be seeing a Physio because little tears might get bigger and should be treated with right exercises. If your supra tears you are in big trouble and you´ll regret the rest of your life that you didn´t look for prof. help when there was time for it!

Last edited by mod85; 10-11-2011 at 06:32 PM.

 
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