There’s no getting around it: Your shoulder hurts. You lift your arm, and it hurts. Each time you reach in front, overhead or behind your back, you feel the pain.
“The interesting thing is that most people, when they come into the office and they have shoulder pain, most people assume it’s arthritis,” Dr. Harris says. “In a great majority of people, it’s not, but most people will assume that. It’s more likely a rotator cuff issue,” he continues.
Your rotator cuff is a set of four muscles that surround your ball and socket joint. You have one on top, one in the front and two in back. These muscles’ functions are to lift your arm into full reflection, as well as rotate your arm out and in. Rotator cuffs are susceptible to impingement syndrome (excessive squeezing or rubbing of the rotator cuff and shoulder blade) to full thickness rotator cuff tears.
There are different approaches for treatment of rotator cuff issues. For impingement syndrome, “eight out of ten patients are going to get better with conservative measures,” Dr. Harris says.
High-grade issues might require surgery which, Dr. Harris says, is a personal matter. “When you’re in here, I never want you to feel that there’s pressure,” he says. “Surgery is a very personal thing, and the decision must be made by the patient.”
Treatments for rotator cuff issues include:
• Physical therapy
• Steroidal injections
• Surgery, including arthroscopy