The “Rotator Cuff” describes a group of

The “Rotator Cuff” describes a group of four muscles that hold your shoulder in its socket while your larger muscles move your arm. Your rotator cuff tendon lives in an area of your shoulder called the “subacromial space”. Sometimes this space can become crowded by: abnormally shaped bones, arthritis, spurs or even lazy muscles that fail to keep the bones separated properly. This overcrowding may create a painful pinching of the rotator cuff tendon and or bursa when you raise your arm. This condition is called “Shoulder Anterior Impingement Syndrome”, or simply “Impingement”. Long-standing impingement leads to rotator cuff tears in much the same way that a rope is damaged by repeatedly being struck by a dull stone.

Impingement is the most common shoulder disorder and accounts for about half of all shoulder complaints seen by physicians. Those who perform repetitive overhead activity are at greater risk for impingement. This includes athletes who participate in: swimming, baseball, volleyball, weightlifting and tennis as well as jobs like: carpenters, electricians, painters and wall paper hangers.

Impingement often starts after a period of overuse. Initially, your symptoms may be limited to a sharp pain during overhead activity or while reaching behind the back to fasten a bra or close a zipper. As your condition progresses, you may develop a constant ache that is present even at rest. Nighttime pain is common, often disrupting sleep. Impingement is a disorder that, if left untreated, will progress through 3 stages and eventually lead to rotator cuff tearing and surgery.
Your successful treatment will focus on restoring your range of motion while avoiding aggravating movements i.e. reaching overhead and behind your back. If you work out at the gym, you should especially avoid overhead presses, lateral raises and push-ups. Avoid sleeping on the “bad” shoulder, especially if this causes pain. You may benefit from sleeping on your “good” side and placing a pillow between your side and “bad” arm.

Therapy modalities like ultrasound, and ice may be used initially to relieve your pain. NSAIDS like ibuprofen are often helpful. Your doctor will use some specialized soft tissue manipulation and stretching to help loosen tight muscles and tendons. Specific strengthening exercises will be prescribed to help restore normal and pain- free function of your shoulder.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s