The Rotator Cuff muscles (four muscles in total) are the primary support structures for the shoulder. Therefore, even minor dysfunction associated with these muscles can create pain and decreased performance of everyday tasks. A Rotator Cuff injury can be caused by many everyday activities. These activities include traumatic events (e.g. fall on an outstretched arm, “yanking” of the arm), repetitive motion (e.g. throwing a ball, carrying children) and chronic improper posture (e.g. operating a computer, driving).
There are three major types of Rotator Cuff injuries that we treat successfully:
1. Rotator Cuff Muscle Tears: This is a partial tear of one or more of the four Rotator Cuff muscles. Rotator Cuff muscle tears are often accompanied by deep achy pain in the shoulder and arm weakness.
2. Tendonitis: Tendons are at the ends of each muscle and attach the muscles to the bones they move. When there is inflammation of these tendons it is called Tendonitis. The symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tendonitis are often trigger point pain over the tendon accompanied by deep, achy pain in the shoulder and arm weakness.
3. Rotator Cuff Impingement Syndrome: Chronic injury of the Rotator Cuff can lead to a “pinching” of the nerves passing through the shoulder. This is commonly referred to as a Shoulder Impingement or Rotator Cuff Impingement. Symptoms often include numbness, tingling or sharp, shooting pain into the arm or hand.
HOW DO I HEAL MY SHOULDER PAIN?
The most common forms of medical treatment for Rotator Cuff injuries are anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections and surgery. Although meds and injections may reduce the severity of pain associated with rotator cuff dysfunction, they are not a long-term solution and may do more bodily harm than good in the long run. Surgery is a last resort and should only be used if there is irreparable damage to the shoulder that cannot be handled with proper rehabilitation.
THE NATURAL APPROACH
First: Heal the Damaged Tissue
Ending the pain caused by a Rotator Cuff injury requires stopping the cycle of inflammation that is creating the pain. Class IV laser therapy is an excellent method for this, because it is presently the only modality that can both reduce inflammation and heal tissue simultaneously. During Laser Therapy, the infrared laser light interacts with tissues at the cellular level, increasing metabolic activity and improving the transport of nutrients across the cell membrane. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. As the injured area returns to normal, pain is relieved and function is restored.
Second: Correct the Shoulder and Postural Mechanics
Long-term pain relief of shoulder injuries involves rehabilitation of the shoulder, neck, and thoracic spine. Shoulder rehabilitation is achieved by utilizing specific postural adjustments, exercises and specific posture stabilizing methods in order to re-establish proper motion and strength of the shoulder joint. Ongoing strengthening and stretching exercises are used to rehabilitate the musculature of the shoulder to ensure lasting results.
If you suffer from chronic pain, it is worth your while to spend some time figuring out which of any number of factors are contributing to your pain — we will help you explore which combination of therapies will help you heal it. The good news is — you can do it without drugs, and you can get back to the activities you love!
Dr. Niele Maimone, DC is the owner and founder of Align Healing Center in Danville, California. For more information or to set up a consult call 925.362.8283 or visit www.alignhealingcenter.com.