In March I started having shoulder pain. I cannot remember any specific injury that caused this pain, I have racked my brain. If anything at all happened to cause injury, it might have been a fall down the stairs where I landed on my arm. I saw an ortho doctor in May because after 6 weeks of pain I thought I should be seen. He did an x-ray and exam and diagnosed me with either tendonitis or bursitis. He gave me a cortizone shot and told me to come back in 4 weeks, and his PT gave me some exercises to try. The shot did not eliminate the pain, if anything it took the edge off of the pain, but the pain never went away. The exercises have not helped, and here we are in October. The pain is as strong as it was 6 months ago, so I am scheduled to doc again on Tuesday.
Here's what I can describe about my pain. My shoulder does not hurt all the time. I can move it certain ways and it doesn't hurt at all. I can sleep on it and it doesn't hurt. I cannot however swing my arm backward without pain. The pain feels like someone is stabbing me in the back of my shoulder, not my shoulder blade, but deep in my shoulder. The higher I try to raise my arm backwards, the worse the pain gets. It's truly unbearable pain when I move it that way.
I have no idea whether or not this is really tendonitis. On the other hand, I don't know what else it could be. I am open to any and all help!
Welcome to the boards. One question, we know that when you swing your arm back you get the pain. Do you get the same pain when your arm is relaxed and someone puts it through the same motion. The answer will help differentiate between a muscle contracting and non contractile tissue.
Usually it means that when you do the movement yourself and it is painfull but not when manipulated into a similar pattern it would be assumed to be a muscular or tendinous condition. Much has been written about all arm movements at great length except for backward extention. The largest muscle extending the shoulder is latissmus dorsi, the one that looks like wings on Arnold S on the outer border of the chest. But it does not attach in the back of the shoulder but to the upper front of the humerus.
Another muscle that helps in shoulder extention is teres minor. I can't see why that would give pain with out recent injury. It is not your full joint capsule at fault as you have only one range giving you pain and that is on active movement. Anothers aspect is that I don't think there is a bursa of any note in the back area of the shoulder. Any bursa tendon or muscle in the shoulder that is aggravated should give pain down the arm as it is derived from the cervical dermatome 5 and 6. You complain of pain only in the posterior shoulder. So I am beginning to think it happened from your fall on the stairs. You perhaps had a posterior subluxation of the shoulder joint, not enough to dislocate but enough to damage the capsule and stretch the ligaments. You may now have a little bit of instability, some muscle imbalance or some impingement, the latter allowing something sensative around the joint to be compressed. Perhaps a scan of some kind would help with the diagnosis. Let us know how your meeting goes with the bone doc, hope you get some satisfacation. Keep us in touch, this sounds like an interesting anatomical case.
Thanks James for your advice. In quick reply, my ortho scheduled an arthrogram which I had done yesterday. He suspected either a rotator cuff tear or a labral tear. I meet with him for my follow-up on Friday. I will post again once I have his results!
When something is ripped you wouldn´t experience a good night´s sleep anymore. Tendonitis takes a long time to get healthy again, to make bloodflow better. I´d see a GOOD physiotherapist they have more insight than any doc. Take care no more falling on you arm because you might do something that isn´t reversible. good luck!
hi cincbcat --
i just went thru rotator cuff surgery July 28th. if that is what you find out you need, i'll try provide any 'tips' that might help with comfort, etc. everybody is different in what they had done, but still we all need the little helps that 'help us thru the night'.
a friend of mine just had shoulder surgery recently. they ?thought? she had a rotator cuff tear, but instead she had a BUCKLE in a muscle. her motion pain sounds very much like yours. her surgery was successful in whatever they do to 'unbuckle' ---- and she is succeeding in PT very nicely.
I used to have severe shoulder pain/rotator-cuff problems. For years, I could not reach across my body, or reach back, or raise my arms, without severe and lasting pain.
I finally decided that I needed to find a way to tone and build-up the muscles in my shoulders in the hopes that toned shoulder muscles would stop the nasty pain and stop limiting my movements. After some experimenting, I finally found a way to physically exercise my shoulders without pain. So..... I started slowly, doing a few reps until discomfort and then stopping. I kept this up for quite a while, slowly toning my shoulder muscles, I guess.
Over time, I gradually increased the reps and slowly added other shoulder exercises. Currently, at close to 70 years of age, I do 200 weight curls per day and 140 weight lifts per day and about 500 pushups per day.
I have absolutely no pain in my shoulders and have total flexibility and strength in my arms and shoulders. I can reach up, reach to the sides, reach across my body, anywhere!
It amazes me how a little proper muscle toning and exercise can improve our health and quality of life.