When a patient complains of pain in the shoulder joint, Dr. Nikesh Seth knows it may be a rotator cuff injury. It’s one of the most common causes of pain in the shoulder joint, and one of the most commonly treated shoulder injuries at Integrated Pain Consultants. The rotator cuff is a highly mobile area that’s made up of muscles and tendons. Their job is to keep the top of your humerus in the very shallow shoulder socket. Signs include a dull ache which might get worse with specific movements or when you try to sleep on the side of the injured shoulder.
Rotator cuff muscles include the supraspinatus, which holds the humerus in place and helps with lifting and stability. There’s also the infraspinatus, the primary muscle for rotating and extending. The teres minor is the smallest of these muscles and helps with rotating the arm away from the body. The subscapularis is involved in connecting the humerus to the shoulder blade. It allows you to straighten and lower your arm. If you’ve never heard of these muscles, you’re not alone. Most people haven’t unless they suffer from a rotator cuff injury.
These injuries can range from straining one or more of these muscles to “fraying,” minor tears, and serious tears that separate entire muscles. Most people with a rotator cuff injury repeatedly reach overhead (usually for their job or in playing sports). Carpenters, tennis players, and painters are all at high risk of rotator cuff injuries. Risks increase with age. If surgery isn’t necessary, physical therapy is the most common treatment. These muscles need to be strengthened as they heal to prevent future and further injury.
But what about the pain? Rotator cuff tears and injury pain can range from a constant dull ache to weakness in the limb. You might not be able to sleep on your preferred side, perform daily tasks like combing your hair, or lift your children or grandchildren. Treating pain along with the injury is critical for an improved quality of life. However, since rotator cuff injuries can be difficult to treat and take a number of physical therapy sessions, it’s important to have alternative pain treatments available. In most cases, rotator cuff injuries should not be treated with long-term drug usage.
You will still want some amount of pain so that your body can tell you when you’re over-extending your rotator cuff. However, it doesn’t need to interfere with your life. Call Integrated Pain Consultants at 480-626-2552 and enjoy rotator cuff pain relief.