A common cause of shoulder pain is damage to the rotator cuff muscles and tendons, which support the shoulder joint and allow for a wide range of movement. Damage may be the result of an injury to the shoulder or from progressive wear and tear that you might expect from repetitive shoulder activity.
Over time old shoulder injuries and repetitive activities can cause the development of bone spurs or build up of calcium deposits within the tendons, causing irritation or damage. This persistent irritation can cause inflammation, tearing or even a complete rupture of the tendon resulting in pain and reduced range of movement.
Often pain from a rotator cuff injury is described as a dull deep ache in the shoulder. Lying on the affected side may disturb sleep and it may be difficult to comb your hair, fasten a bra or scratch your back. Often the arm feels weak so that simple things like lifting a kettle or opening a door are painful and awkward.
How do you know you have a rotator cuff injury?
There are a number of orthopaedic tests that your chiropractor or osteopath can perform to indicate whether there is damage or irritation to the rotator cuff.
Diagnostic ultrasound of the shoulder is a fast, affordable and dynamic way to examine the rotator cuff and has been shown to be as reliable as MRI.
X-ray is helpful for the diagnosis of bone spurs but is not able to assess the tendons or muscles.
What treatment should I have?
Depending on the severity of the injury, chiropractic and osteopathy can help to reduce pain and increase range of movement. In more severe cases surgical intervention may be needed, therefore a quick diagnosis is needed, as some surgical procedures are time sensitive.
If you are concerned that you have damage to the rotator cuff tendons it is wise to have it assessed as soon as possible. The Chiltern Health Centre can offer both chiropractic and osteopathic consultations and can also provide a diagnostic ultrasound and x-ray service.