Non-Surgical Treatment of Rotator Cuff Syndrome

  1. Can you raise your arms above your head?
  2. Does your shoulder stiffness prevent you from scratching your own back?
  3. Does your shoulder hurt when you sleep on your side?

If you said yes to any of these questions, you might have Rotator Cuff Syndrome.

What is Rotator Cuff Syndrome?

Rotator Cuff Syndrome is an inflammation of the muscles that support the shoulder joint. When inflammation occurs it creates pain, stiffness and weakness that may spread to the neck and shoulder blade region as well. Often a patient with Rotator Cuff Syndrome cannot reach behind their back and has deep pain in the shoulder if they try to rotate their arm. They find themselves limited in motions that used to be easy for them, such as reaching something in the back seat of a car, playing golf or doing their hair in the morning.

What causes Rotator Cuff Syndrome?

Rotator Cuff

Sitting at a desk, working on a computer or repetitive lifting creates postural changes in the human body over time. The muscles in the front of the upper body tend to shorten and become tight, whereas the muscles in the back of the upper body tend to lengthen and become weak. This imbalance in muscle strength causes the head to move forward and the shoulders will then begin to round forward as well.

When the shoulders round forward, it creates extra stress on the sensitive muscles of the rotator cuff. Over time, this extra stress creates micro-tears in the muscle fibers and inflammation in the shoulder soon follows.

Certain populations are especially prone to Rotator Cuff Syndrome. The risk for Rotator Cuff Syndrome increases with age and also affects those who have poor circulation (such the Elderly, those with diabetes) or have active lifestyles that require repetitive shoulder movement such as golf or softball players.

Is surgery or injections required?

Most patients come to my office with the belief that surgery is required to repair their Rotator Cuff Syndrome. Actually, the opposite is true. Surgical intervention is only recommended for those who have experienced a complete tear of the rotator cuff muscle or those who have not responded to chiropractic care and/or rehabilitation for six months.

Steroid injections are often recommended by traditional medical doctors for the care of non-surgical Rotator Cuff Syndrome. These shots are incredibly painful and inject medication into the shoulder joint to mask the pain caused by the repetitive mechanical stress on the rotator cuff. These injections can only be performed 2-3 times because of the destructive nature of the steroids to the tendons and bones of the shoulder. They also increase the risk of re-injury since the patient can tend to “overuse” their shoulder because they feel better, although the problem has not been addressed.

Say No Shoulder Pain for Good

In our office, we have so much fun taking patients through a muscle imbalance and functional examinations. We show them which areas are tight, tender, overactive, restricted, weak and deconditioned. After comparing them to a normative database of people in their same age group and based on their goals and expectations, we share our recommendations for treatment.

Most patients with Rotator Cuff Syndrome start treatment with deep stretches and trigger point massage to the tight muscles of the anterior shoulder and arm pit areas. Sometimes we integrate Medical Acupuncture for pain control or use Kinesiotape at the beginning of treatment as seen in the 2008 Olympic Beach Volleyball games.

After flexibility is achieved and pain levels have decreased, we start to re-educate the rotator cuff muscles to properly stabilize the shoulder joint without continued stress or micro-tears. When the rotator cuff muscles stabilize the shoulder joint and mechanical stress is removed from the area, not only does the pain disappear, but the patient is able to prevent future injury to the rotator cuff without surgery or injections.

If you think that you might have rotator cuff syndrome, I invite you to take the next step by calling our office. We’ll see where you’re tight, tender, overactive, restricted, weak and deconditioned. After comparing you to other people in your age group and based on your goals and expectations, I’ll share my recommendations. If this interests you, please give us a call at 224-653-8094 so that we can reserve a time for you. I can’t wait to share my findings and recommendations to help you live life to its fullest.