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Patient Guide to Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain should not be ignored. Early treatment can prevent further injury and chronic shoulder problems. Pain in the shoulder may also be referred from other areas of the body, e.g. disc problems the neck.

The Shoulder Joint

The structure of the shoulder joint allows more range of motion than any other joint in the body.

The shoulder actually has several joints that work together to allow a wide range of motion. Most injuries occur at the “main” shoulder joint, where the head of the upper arm meets the shoulder blade; the term “shoulder joint” refers to this joint. The other smaller shoulder joints are referred to by their specific names.

The head of the upper arm bone sits on a very small and shallow socket in the shoulder blade. This allows for the shoulder’s wide range of motion but makes it susceptible to injury. Because there is little bony stability, the shoulder relies greatly on connective tissue (e.g. ligaments, tendons, muscles) to hold the bones of the joint together and to stabilize the joint.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

The Most Common Cause of shoulder joint pain is rotator cuff tendonitis – injury and inflammation of the tendons (rotator cuff tendons) that envelope the shoulder joint. The most common cause of rotator cuff tendonitis is overuse of the shoulder, though the rotator cuff tendons may be injured suddenly as a result of a fall or accident.

Muscle strain is common in the muscles that run over the shoulders to the neck . It is often the result of holding the shoulders in a raised position for long periods of time. The muscles between the shoulder blades are often strained from slouching from long periods of time. Muscle strain varies in severity.

Other painful shoulder conditions, such as frozen shoulder, may occur for no apparent reason. (The risk of frozen shoulder increases when the shoulder is not used enough after a painful injury). The cause of calcium deposits in the shoulder, which may trigger episodes of acute inflammation of the tendons, is also unclear. Arthritis sometimes occurs in a previously injured shoulder joint.

Slap Lesion

Slap Lesion

Risk Factors

WEAK ROTATOR CUFF MUSCLES

Weak or fatigued rotator cuff muscles can lead to soft tissue injury. If the muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint (mainly the rotator cuff muscles) are weak or fatigued, the muscles fail to fully stabilize the joint. If the head of the upper arm bone is not kept in place in its socket, abnormal force is placed upon tissue surrounding the shoulder joint and can lead to injury. Shoulder tendonitis and bursitis are common.

OVERUSE

Shoulder pain is frequently caused by chronic overuse of the shoulder. The shoulder may become injured suddenly from a blow or fall, but gradual injury from chronic overuse of the shoulder is more common. Repetitive lifting, pushing, pulling, throwing, and especially overhead activities may lead to injury. Pain may be mild and intermittent in the beginning and worsen over time. Combining repetitive overhead activities with force increases the risk of injury further (e.g. stacking heavy objects on a high shelf).

Repetitive overhead activities can be particularly damaging. When the arm is raised overhead, the head of the upper arm bone migrates upward on the shoulder socket somewhat and rotator cuff tendons come into contact with the roof of the shoulder blade. Repeated contact and friction of the rotator cuff tendons often leads to irritation and inflammation of the tendons (tendonitis).

A strong rotator cuff helps keep the head of the upper arm bone from riding up excessively but some contact between the rotator cuff and bones in the joint still occurs with overhead activity. The bursa that lies under the roof of the shoulder blade may also be affected and become inflamed (bursitis). Shoulder bursitis often occurs along with shoulder tendonitis.

AGING

Aging is a major factor in rotator cuff injuries Tendons lose elasticity with aging and they become more susceptible to injury. Muscle mass also decreases with age. Both the rotator cuff muscles and tendons can be strengthened with resistance exercises.

Prevention of Shoulder Pain

Overuse shoulder injuries often can be prevented.

Weak rotator cuff muscles may be unable to adequately stabilize the shoulder joint. Rotator Cuff Exercises can help. Building up strength of the rotator cuff through exercise helps to stabilize the shoulder joint to prevent abnormal pressure on the soft tissues surrounding the joint. The muscles that control the shoulder blade also play a role in stabilizing the shoulder joint.

Avoid repetitive overhead activities. If you are involved in activities that involve repetitive overhead movements, take frequent breaks. Fatigued rotator cuff muscles lose the ability to keep the shoulder stabilized.

Avoid doing too much too soon. If you are going to engage in any overhead activity you haven’t done for a long time, such as getting back into playing tennis, endurance must be built up slowly. Exercises to strengthen the muscles you will be using in an activity reduce the chance of injury.

Warm up before engaging in sports such as swimming, tennis or throwing sports that require overhead movement.

Proper form for your sport should be learned and practiced to prevent injury.

Maintain proper posture. Muscles over the shoulders become strained from holding the shoulders in a raised position for long periods of time. Muscles in the upper back, between the shoulder blades, become strained as a result of slouching.

Treatment of Shoulder Pain

Prevent major problems by treating minor problems early. If a minor injury is not given a chance to heal before it is subjected to the same activity, pain and inflammation may become chronic.

Treatment of shoulder pain depends on the cause – seek a proper diagnosis from a qualified physician. Most shoulder injuries heal with conservative treatment. Healing takes time. The time it takes to recover depends upon several factors, e.g. the severity of injury, the type of injury, how quickly one heals, how early one begins treatment.

Typical treatment of shoulder pain (for most conditions) involves a combination of rest (not complete rest), exercise, anti-inflammatory medication, applying cold or heat to the shoulder joint and, in some cases, an injection of steroids into the shoulder joint.

Doing activities that aggravate shoulder pain often cause further damage, delay healing, and may lead to long-term problems. However, not using the shoulder at all weakens the shoulder and leaves it more vulnerable to injury. Immobilizing the shoulder may also lead to frozen shoulder. Stretching exercises help prevent this condition.

Strengthening exercises for the muscles that support the shoulder, particularly the rotator cuff (the muscles and tendons that dynamically stabilize the main shoulder joint) are a major part of treatment for most shoulder injuries, but strength training before adequate healing has taken place may cause further pain and injury. A physician or physical therapist can determine when the shoulder is ready for strengthening exercises. Shoulder Exercises can prevent injury from recurring.

Massage therapy is also used to treat many soft tissue injuries. From muscle strain to tendonitis to frozen shoulder, massage therapy increases circulation, speeds healing, improves range of motion and relieves pain.

Most shoulder pain improves with conservative treatment; however, surgery may occasionally be required (depending upon the type of and severity of the injury). Surgery may be performed to tighten loose ligaments, repair a torn tendon, remove a calcium deposit, trim a damaged tendon, etc. when conservative treatment doesn’t adequately resolve symptoms.

Diagnosis of Shoulder Pain

Many shoulder conditions have similar symptoms and it may be difficult to diagnose the problem from symptoms alone. A physician, often an orthopedist, diagnoses the cause of shoulder pain by taking into consideration the patient’s symptoms and medical history, findings of a physical examination and sometimes diagnostic testing, such as x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI.


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Rotator Cuff Injuries

Suspect Rotator Cuff Injury? You are at the right place. Cure your Rotator Cuff Injury today. Call us +65 64712744 or SMS to +65 92357641 to schedule for an appointment.

Your rotator cuff is made up of the muscles and tendons in your shoulder. These muscles and tendons connect your upper arm bone with your shoulder blade. They also help hold the ball of your upper arm bone firmly in your shoulder socket. The combination results in the greatest range of motion of any joint in your body.

A rotator cuff injury includes any type of irritation or damage to your rotator cuff muscles or tendons. Causes of a rotator cuff injury may include falling, lifting and repetitive arm activities especially those done overhead, such as throwing a baseball or placing items on overhead shelves.

About half of the time, a rotator cuff injury can heal with self-care measures or exercise therapy.

Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator Cuff Tear

SYMPTOMS OF ROTATOR CUFF INJURIES:

Rotator cuff injury signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain and tenderness in your shoulder, especially when reaching overhead, reaching behind your back, lifting, pulling or sleeping on the affected side
  • Shoulder weakness
  • Loss of shoulder range of motion
  • Inclination to keep your shoulder inactive

The most common symptom is pain. You may experience it when you reach up to comb your hair, bend your arm back to put on a jacket or carry something heavy. Lying on the affected shoulder also can be painful. If you have a severe injury, such as a large tear, you may experience continuous pain and muscle weakness.

When to see a doctor
You should see your doctor if:

  • You’re experiencing severe shoulder pain
  • You’re unable to use your arm or feel weak in the arm
  • You have shoulder pain that’s lasted more than a week

CAUSES OF ROTATOR CUFF TEAR:

Four major muscles (subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor) and their tendons connect your upper arm bone (humerus) with your shoulder blade (scapula). A rotator cuff injury, which is fairly common, involves any type of irritation or damage to your rotator cuff muscles or tendons, including:

  • Tendinitis. Tendons in your rotator cuff can become inflamed due to overuse or overload, especially if you’re an athlete who performs a lot of overhead activities, such as in tennis or racquetball.
  • Bursitis. The fluid-filled sac (bursa) between your shoulder joint and rotator cuff tendons can become irritated and inflamed.
  • Strain or tear. Left untreated, tendinitis can weaken a tendon and lead to chronic tendon degeneration or to a tendon tear. Stress from overuse also can cause a shoulder tendon or muscle to tear.

Common causes of rotator cuff injuries include:

  • Normal wear and tear. Increasingly after age 40, normal wear and tear on your rotator cuff can cause a breakdown of fibrous protein (collagen) in the cuff’s tendons and muscles. This makes them more prone to degeneration and injury. With age, you may also develop calcium deposits within the cuff or arthritic bone spurs that can pinch or irritate your rotator cuff.
  • Poor posture. When you slouch your neck and shoulders forward, the space where the rotator cuff muscles reside can become smaller. This can allow a muscle or tendon to become pinched under your shoulder bones (including your collarbone), especially during overhead activities, such as throwing.
  • Falling. Using your arm to break a fall or falling on your arm can bruise or tear a rotator cuff tendon or muscle.
  • Lifting or pulling. Lifting an object that’s too heavy or doing so improperly — especially overhead — can strain or tear your tendons or muscles. Likewise, pulling something, such as a high-poundage archery bow, may cause an injury.
  • Repetitive stress. Repetitive overhead movement of your arms can stress your rotator cuff muscles and tendons, causing inflammation and eventually tearing. This occurs often in athletes, especially baseball pitchers, swimmers and tennis players. It’s also common among people in the building trades, such as painters and carpenters.

RISK FACTORS OF ROTATOR CUFF INJURIES:

The following factors may increase your risk of having a rotator cuff injury:

  • Age. As you get older, your risk of a rotator cuff injury increases. Rotator cuff tears are most common in people older than 40.
  • Being an athlete. Athletes who regularly use repetitive motions, such as baseball pitchers, archers and tennis players, have a greater risk of having a rotator cuff injury.
  • Working in the construction trades. Carpenters and painters, who also use repetitive motions, have an increased risk of injury.
  • Having poor posture. A forward-shoulder posture can cause a muscle or tendon to become irritated and inflamed when you throw or perform overhead activities.
  • Having weak shoulder muscles. This risk factor can be decreased or eliminated with shoulder-strengthening exercises, especially for the less commonly strengthened muscles on the back of the shoulder and around the shoulder blades.

DIAGNOSIS OF ROTATOR CUFF INJURIES:

If your injury appears to be severe or your doctor can’t determine the cause of your pain through physical examination, he or she may recommend diagnostic imaging tests to better delineate your shoulder joint, muscles and tendons. These may include:

  • X-rays
  • A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • An ultrasound scan

TREATMENT OF ROTATOR CUFF INJURIES:

Most of the time, treatment for rotator cuff injuries involves exercise therapy. Your doctor or a physical therapist will talk with you about specific exercises designed to help heal your injury, improve the flexibility of your rotator cuff and shoulder muscles, and provide balanced shoulder muscle strength. Depending on the severity of your injury, physical therapy may take from several weeks to several months to reach maximum effectiveness.

Other rotator cuff injury treatments may include:

  • Steroid injections. Depending on the severity of your pain, your doctor may use a corticosteroid injection to relieve inflammation and pain.
  • Surgery. If you have a large tear in your rotator cuff, you may need surgery to repair the tear. Sometimes during this kind of surgery doctors may remove a bone spur or calcium deposits. The surgery may be performed as an open repair through a 2 1/2- to 4-inch (6- to 10-centimeter) incision, as a mini-open repair through a 1 1/4- to 2-inch (3- to 5-centimeter) incision, or as an arthroscopic repair with the aid of a small camera inserted through a smaller incision.
  • Arthroplasty. Some long-standing rotator cuff tears over time may contribute to the development of rotator cuff arthropathy, which can include severe arthritis. In such cases, your doctor may discuss with you more extensive surgical options, including partial shoulder replacement (hemiarthroplasty) or total shoulder replacement (prosthetic arthroplasty).

A unique treatment option now available involves the use of a reverse ball-and-socket prosthesis. This reverse shoulder prosthesis is most appropriate for people who have very difficult shoulder problems. These include having arthritis in the joint, along with extensive tears of multiple muscles and tendons (rotator cuff) that support the shoulder, or having extensive rotator cuff tears and a failed previous shoulder joint replacement.

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Patient Guide to Shoulder Pain and Shoulder Injury

Shoulder pain is very common in individuals who play ‘overhead’ sports such as baseball, tennis and volleyball. In this group of athletes injury may be the result of an isolated traumatic event such as a fall or through repeated sporting-use causing micro-trauma to the shoulder region.

The shallow anatomical design of the shoulder joint surface is what makes it inherently unstable and prone to these types of injuries. This lack of bony support increases the dependency on the muscles and other soft tissues for stability. Any alterations in how these tissues function will raise the risk of shoulder injuries.

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Two common structural injuries in this group of athletes are the rotator cuff and the labrum.

  • The rotator cuff is a group of muscles which extend from the shoulder blade to the arm. It insures dynamic shoulder stability by maintaining the proper relationship between the arm and the shoulder blade.
  • The shoulder joint is comprised of a ball and socket. The labrum is a fibrous tissue at the edge of the shoulder blade which extends to cover the ball at the top of the arm bone. It functions to increase the shoulder’s stability by deepening the socket
  • Typically, you are more prone to injure the labrum at a younger age. This tearing injury is called a SLAP lesion which is an acronym, (Superior Labrum extending Anterior to Posterior), referring to the location of the injury. It is a fairly common diagnosis for overhead athletes complaining of shoulder pain. Some studies have found it to be present in 83% to 91% of these athletes who require shoulder surgery.
  • Injuries to the rotator cuff are more likely to happen as we get older. Repetitive micro-trauma to these tissues results in inflamed tendons (tendonitis) and tears.

Tightness in the tissues at the back of the shoulder and weakness in the shoulder blade muscles are factors that are known to increase your risk for these injuries. An assessment by a physiotherapist can be beneficial in determining which of these factors are present and designing a program to correct these imbalances before you have pain.

If you have discomfort and pain every time you cock your arm to throw or serve, or have experienced the sudden onset of sharp pain or a loss of strength and power, you may already have an injury. Ignoring these warning signs and continuing to play through the pain can cause damage. If you are experiencing symptoms a physiotherapist can determine whether a program of stretches for the back of the shoulder and exercises to strengthen your shoulder blade muscles will allow you to return to your sport with more power to serve or throw, lowering your chance of re-injury. The earlier you seek therapy the better will be the result.

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A Patient’s Guide to Cuff (Rotator) Tear Arthropathy

The rotator cuff is a unique structure in the shoulder that is formed by four tendons. These four tendons attach to four muscles that help keep the shoulder stabilized in the socket (or glenoid) and help rotate the upper arm inward and outward. If the rotator cuff is torn and is not repaired, a type of wear and tear arthritis of the shoulder can develop over time. This condition is sometimes called arthropathy and the term cuff tear arthropathy is used to describe this type of arthritis of the shoulder that develops when the rotator cuff is damaged. If you develop this condition, your shoulder will be painful. Movement and strength of the shoulder will be decreased. Moving the arm away from the body and raising it over your head can be especially difficult.

This guide will help you understand

  • what parts of the shoulder are involved
  • what causes this condition
  • how doctors diagnose the condition
  • what treatment options are available

Anatomy

What parts of the shoulder are involved?

The bones of the shoulder are the humerus (the upper arm bone), the scapula (the shoulder blade), and the clavicle (the collar bone). The roof of the shoulder is formed by a part of the scapula called the acromion. The shoulder joint is also called the glenohumeral joint. One of the bones of the glenohumeral joint is the humerus (the long bone of the upper arm). It has a ball, called the humeral head on the top end. The humeral head fits into a small, shallow cup called the glenoid fossa. It makes up the other part of the glenohumeral joint. The glenoid fossa is part of the shoulder blade. A large ligament runs from the front of the acromion to another part of the shoulder blade called the coracoid process. This ligament is called thecoracoacromial ligament. It adds stability to the front of the shoulder.

The rotator cuff is made up of tough, fibrous tissue. It forms a cuff (or capsule) covering the shoulder joint. There are four tendons that help form the rotator cuff. The muscles that form the tendons are the supraspinatusinfraspinatusteres minor, and subscapularis. These muscles rotate the shoulder outward and inward. Along with another muscle, the deltoid, they also help lift the arm away from the body.

The rotator cuff slides between the humeral head and the acromion as we raise our arm. As this sliding occurs over and over, the rotator cuff tendons will often be pinched as you use the shoulder everyday. This pinching is called impingement. Over time this pinching can lead to damage and weakening of the rotator cuff tendons.

Causes

What causes this condition?

Dr. Charles Neer actually described rotator cuff tear arthropathy (RCTA) in 1977. Today, doctors generally refer to this as simply cuff tear arthropathy. Cuff tear arthropathy is actually a type of wear and tear, or degenerative arthritis of the shoulder that develops over time after the rotator cuff is damaged.

Normally, when the rotator cuff muscles contract, they pull the head of the humerus tightly into the socket of the shoulder. This stabilizes the shoulder and allows the the large deltoid muscle to raise the arm over the head as it rotates the humeral head like a pulley. This motion needs the rotator cuff and deltoid muscles to work together – in balance. When the rotator cuff is torn, the shoulder becomes unbalanced. The deltoid muscle pulls the head of the humerus up into the acromion in a sliding motion. When the top of the humerus hits the underside of the acromion, the deltoid may be able to pull the arm part way up as it levers against the underside of the acromion. But, over time this abnormal sliding motion causes wear and tear on the joint surfaces. Arthritis develops and any motion becomes painful. The shoulder becomes weaker and weaker until you can no longer raise the arm above the head.

Rotator cuff tears are very common. Trauma, such as falls, lifting, and pulling forcefully can also cause a rotator cuff tear. When this happens, it is called an acute tear. Although the rotator cuff can be damaged from a single traumatic injury, damage to the rotator cuff usually occurs gradually. Age can be a factor. As we age, the tendons of the rotator cuff become weaker and more likely to be injured. The blood supply to the tendons diminishes with age. Rotator cuff tears are much more likely to occur after the age of 40.

Certain activities can increase the wear and tear on the rotator cuff. Repetitive overhead activity such as painting, plastering, racquetball, weightlifting, and swimming can cause wear and tear of the rotator cuff.

Surgeons generally will recommend surgery to repair a rotator cuff tear when it occurs. A successful surgical repair of a torn rotator cuff tear can make the development of cuff tear arthropathy much less likely. But, sometimes a rotator cuff tear cannot be repaired. The tissue is simply too damaged and cannot fixed. This is not an uncommon situation in older patients with rotator cuff tears. In other cases, the patient simply elects not to have surgery to repair a rotator cuff tear and chooses to simply live with the discomfort. Over several years, both of these situations can result in the later development of rotator cuff arthropathy.

Symptoms

What does this condition feel like?

The most common symptom of rotator cuff tear arthropathy is pain in and around the shoulder. The pain can also radiate into your neck, arm, even into your wrist or hand. The shoulder can be especially painful when trying to lift the arm, or rotate it outward. The pain is usually worse at night. It can interrupt your sleep, especially if you try to sleep on the affected shoulder. If untreated, the pain can be nearly continuous and can be severe.

Weakness of the shoulder makes it difficult, if not impossible to lift the arm overhead. Often, even starting this motion can be difficult. The tendency is to shrug the shoulder in order to lift the arm part of the way. With time, weakness of the rotator cuff muscles will worsen. Range of motion can be quite limited. You will often find it difficult to do routine things, like reaching behind your back, reaching into a cabinet, or combing your hair. You may notice a crackling or popping sensation. When there is arthritis of the glenohumeral joint, there is often a creaking or grating sound.

Diagnosis

How do doctors diagnose this condition?

Your doctor will want to do a history and physical examination. He will ask you about activities or trauma that could have injured your shoulder. He will want to know the level of your pain, and what limitations you have. A physical examination is done. Range of motion and strength of the shoulder muscles will be evaluated. Your doctor will want to look at your shoulder to see if there is bony deformity, or atrophy (shrinkage) of the muscles. With a complete rotator cuff tear, moving the arm away from the body can be nearly impossible. If your doctor lifts your arm for you, and you cannot hold it up, this is called a positive Drop Arm Test. This usually means the rotator cuff is torn.

Other areas such as the neck may also need evaluation. A pinched nerve in the neck can mimic a rotator cuff tear. A neurological examination to include checking reflexes and sensation may be included. Your doctor may want you to have anelectromyogram (EMG). This checks the function of the muscles of the shoulder. An EMG uses a small needle in the muscle being tested. It measures the electrical activity of the muscle at rest, and when tightened.

Your doctor will request X-rays of your shoulder. X-rays show the shape of the bones and joints. When the rotator cuff is torn, the shoulder will often ride high, meaning that it sits higher in the joint than it should. It can also show how much damage ahs occurred to the joint surfaces.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows your doctor to look at slices of the area in question. The MRI machine uses magnetic waves, not X-rays to show the muscle, tendons, and ligaments of the shoulder. MRIs will show tears of the rotator cuff tendons. Atrophy of the muscles can also be evaluated with MRI. A computerized tomography (CT) scan shows slices of bone. Like X-rays, it uses radiation. A CT scan can help to more accurately determine the degree of damage of the glenohumeral joint. A CT scan is especially useful to plan surgery if an artificial shoulder replacement is considered for treatment.

Treatment

What treatment options are available?

Nonsurgical Treatment

Conservative care that includes physical therapy, ice, heat, and anti-inflammatories is tried first. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, and increase range of motion and function. Corticosteroid injection into the shoulder joint is also sometimes helpful. Steroids are very powerful anti-inflammatory medications that can reduce pain temporarily. These injections will not heal the tear but may give pain relief for several weeks to months. If arthritis of the shoulder is advanced, and pain is continuous and severe, surgery may be the best option available.

Surgery

Cuff tear arthropathy is the result of long standing lack of rotator cuff function. In almost all cases, repair of the rotator cuff tear is no longer an option. Surgery for cuff tear arthropathy is done when pain and decreased motion continue after conservative care. The simplest surgical procedure to try and improve the situation is a debridement. During a debridement, the surgeon will surgically remove (debride) any inflammed tissue, bones spurs and loose flaps of tendon tissue that may be catching in the joint and causing pain. This procedure may reduce pain, however, it does not always improve range of motion, strength, or function of the shoulder.

Patients with this type of arthritis would seem to be good candidates for a shoulder replacement, but replacing the shoulder in the typical fashion has not been successful. Replacing the shoulder with a special type of artficial shoulder joint is becoming more popular. This procedure is called a reverse shoulder replacement.

The “normal” artificial shoulder was designed to copy our real shoulder. The glenoid component (the socket) was designed to replace our normal shoulder socket with a thin, shallow plastic cup. The humeral head component was designed to replace the ball of the humerus with a metal ball that sits on top of the glenoid. This situation has been compared to placing a ball on a shallow saucer. Without something to hold it in place, the metal ball simply slides around on the saucer. In the shoulder that something is the rotator cuff and the muscles that attach to the tendons. Without a rotator cuff to hold the metal ball centered in the plastic socket, the metal quickly wore out the plastic socket and the joint became painful once again. The answer to this dilemma was to rethink the mechanics of the shoulder joint and design an artificial shoulder that worked differently than the real shoulder joint. The solution was to reverse the socket and the ball, placing the ball portion of the shoulder where the socket use to be and the socket where the ball or humeral head use to be. This new design led to a much more stable shoulder joint that could function without a rotator cuff. The artificial joint itself provided more stability by creating a deeper socket that prevented the ball from sliding up and down as the shoulder was raised. The large deltoid muscle that covers the shoulder could be used to more effectively lift the arm, providing better function of the shoulder. The final result is a shoulder that functions better, is less painful and can last for years without loosening.

Rehabilitation

What should I expect after treatment?

Nonsurgical Rehabilitation

Your physical therapist will show you how to use ice or heat to help with pain. You will also be instructed in exercises to strengthen your shoulder girdle as much as possible. Showing you joint protection tips, or motion that you can expect to do safely without causing more harm to your shoulder is also important. The goal is to reduce pain, increase range of motion and function, and prevent further arthritis.

After Surgery

A physical or occupational therapist will see you the day after surgery to begin your rehabilitation program. Therapy treatments will gradually improve the movement in your shoulder. Your therapist will go over your exercises and make sure you are safe getting in and out of bed and moving about in your room.

When you go home, you may get home therapy visits. By visiting your home, your therapist can check to see that you are safe getting around in your home. Treatments will also be done to help improve your range of motion and strength. In some cases, you may require up to three visits at home before beginning outpatient therapy.

Out patient therapy at a facility can often more effective and is often preferred over home physical therapy. The first few outpatient treatments will focus on controlling pain and swelling. Ice and electrical stimulation treatments may help. Your therapist may also use massage and other types of hands-on treatments to ease muscle spasm and pain. Continue to use your shoulder sling as prescribed.

As the rehabilitation program evolves, more challenging exercises are chosen to safely advance the shoulder’s strength and function. Finally, a select group of exercises can be used to simulate day-to-day activities, like grooming your hair or getting dressed.

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Shoulder Bankart Repair Surgery

What is a Bankart Repair?

The aim of a Bankart repair operation is to restore stability to the shoulder. The operation is suitable for people who have detached the labrum and ligaments at the front of the shoulder as a result of an original violent dislocation. Usually the shoulder has remained unstable and may have dislocated on a number of further occasions.

After the operation you should not suffer further dislocations and have much reduced pain.

bankart_repair1

What does Bankart Repair involve?

Bankart Repair surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and takes around an hour and a half.  Usually the nerves to the whole arm are also numbed with local anaesthetic which lasts for sixteen to twenty-four hours. This technique is called a regional block and is similar to the idea of an epidural anaesthetic frequently used in childbirth. This regional block not only means that a lighter general anaesthetic is required, reducing postoperative sickness and nausea, but also provides excellent pain relief afterwards.

The operation is carried out as a conventional open operation through an incision at the front of the shoulder, or telescopically through a number of small incisions around the shoulder.  The aim is to restore the labrum and ligaments to their original position on the edge of the socket and encouraged to heal there. The first step in the operation is to mobilise and re-position the labrum and ligaments and to create an environment in which healing can occur. Little harpoons or anchors are then inserted into the bone on the edge of the socket, which gain a good grip. Stitches on these anchors are then used to suture the labrum and ligaments back into place. The anchors and sutures then hold everything in the right place while natural healing occurs.

The incisions are closed with stitches and waterproof dressings are applied.

When will I recover?

The operation requires a one night stay in hospital and your stitches will come out at one to two weeks after the surgery. Your arm is placed into a special shoulder-immobilising sling and exercises and physiotherapy start on the day of surgery.  Your physiotherapist will teach you all you need to know for the first couple of weeks before your discharge from hospital.

As a general guideline your sling will be retained for a period of four weeks during which time you will be quite one-handed. At four weeks the sling generally goes and increased exercises and movement are encouraged. Most people can return to driving a car at around six weeks and will have regained good ordinary use of the shoulder by eight to ten weeks.

Physiotherapy and exercises continue for four to six months and sports that do not impose too much stress on the shoulder, such as running, can start again at around eight to ten weeks. Activities such as golf and swimming can be resumed at around three months. Contact sports, such rugby and football and other high demand sports such as surfing and climbing can be reintroduced at six months.

In addition to regular treatment with the physiotherapist, follow up is required with your surgeon. This is to monitor and guide progress and to look out for complications which are fortunately all rare.

What risks should I know about?

Bankart Repair is a very successful operation but there are some potential complications you should be aware of even though they are uncommon.

  • Infection can occur although it is rare and infection rates are at 1%.
  • Shoulder dislocation can occur although this risk is minimised by having the operation done very carefully and adhering to the physiotherapy regime.

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Rotator Cuff Injury

Your rotator cuff is made up of the muscles and tendons in your shoulder. These muscles and tendons connect your upper arm bone with your shoulder blade. They also help hold the ball of your upper arm bone firmly in your shoulder socket. The combination results in the greatest range of motion of any joint in your body.

A rotator cuff injury includes any type of irritation or damage to your rotator cuff muscles or tendons. Causes of a rotator cuff injury may include falling, lifting and repetitive arm activities — especially those done overhead, such as throwing a baseball or placing items on overhead shelves.

About half of the time, a rotator cuff injury can heal with self-care measures or exercise therapy.

Symptoms:

Rotator cuff injury signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain and tenderness in your shoulder, especially when reaching overhead, reaching behind your back, lifting, pulling or sleeping on the affected side
  • Shoulder weakness
  • Loss of shoulder range of motion
  • Inclination to keep your shoulder inactive

The most common symptom is pain. You may experience it when you reach up to comb your hair, bend your arm back to put on a jacket or carry something heavy. Lying on the affected shoulder also can be painful. If you have a severe injury, such as a large tear, you may experience continuous pain and muscle weakness.

When to see a doctor
You should see your doctor if:

  • You’re experiencing severe shoulder pain
  • You’re unable to use your arm or feel weak in the arm
  • You have shoulder pain that’s lasted more than a week

Causes:

Four major muscles (subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor) and their tendons connect your upper arm bone (humerus) with your shoulder blade (scapula). A rotator cuff injury, which is fairly common, involves any type of irritation or damage to your rotator cuff muscles or tendons, including:

  • Tendinitis. Tendons in your rotator cuff can become inflamed due to overuse or overload, especially if you’re an athlete who performs a lot of overhead activities, such as in tennis or racquetball.
  • Bursitis. The fluid-filled sac (bursa) between your shoulder joint and rotator cuff tendons can become irritated and inflamed.
  • Strain or tear. Left untreated, tendinitis can weaken a tendon and lead to chronic tendon degeneration or to a tendon tear. Stress from overuse also can cause a shoulder tendon or muscle to tear.

Common causes of rotator cuff injuries include:

  • Normal wear and tear. Increasingly after age 40, normal wear and tear on your rotator cuff can cause a breakdown of fibrous protein (collagen) in the cuff’s tendons and muscles. This makes them more prone to degeneration and injury. With age, you may also develop calcium deposits within the cuff or arthritic bone spurs that can pinch or irritate your rotator cuff.
  • Poor posture. When you slouch your neck and shoulders forward, the space where the rotator cuff muscles reside can become smaller. This can allow a muscle or tendon to become pinched under your shoulder bones (including your collarbone), especially during overhead activities, such as throwing.
  • Falling. Using your arm to break a fall or falling on your arm can bruise or tear a rotator cuff tendon or muscle.
  • Lifting or pulling. Lifting an object that’s too heavy or doing so improperly — especially overhead — can strain or tear your tendons or muscles. Likewise, pulling something, such as a high-poundage archery bow, may cause an injury.
  • Repetitive stress. Repetitive overhead movement of your arms can stress your rotator cuff muscles and tendons, causing inflammation and eventually tearing. This occurs often in athletes, especially baseball pitchers, swimmers and tennis players. It’s also common among people in the building trades, such as painters and carpenters.

Risk Factors:

The following factors may increase your risk of having a rotator cuff injury:

  • Age. As you get older, your risk of a rotator cuff injury increases. Rotator cuff tears are most common in people older than 40.
  • Being an athlete. Athletes who regularly use repetitive motions, such as baseball pitchers, archers and tennis players, have a greater risk of having a rotator cuff injury.
  • Working in the construction trades. Carpenters and painters, who also use repetitive motions, have an increased risk of injury.
  • Having poor posture. A forward-shoulder posture can cause a muscle or tendon to become irritated and inflamed when you throw or perform overhead activities.
  • Having weak shoulder muscles. This risk factor can be decreased or eliminated with shoulder-strengthening exercises, especially for the less commonly strengthened muscles on the back of the shoulder and around the shoulder blades.

What you can do in the meantime
In the days before your appointment, you can make yourself more comfortable by:

  • Resting your shoulder. Avoid movements that aggravate your shoulder and give you more pain.
  • Applying cold packs to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Taking pain medications, if necessary.

If your injury appears to be severe or your doctor can’t determine the cause of your pain through physical examination, he or she may recommend diagnostic imaging tests to better delineate your shoulder joint, muscles and tendons. These may include:

  • X-rays
  • A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • An ultrasound scan

Treatments:

Most of the time, treatment for rotator cuff injuries involves exercise therapy. Your doctor or a physical therapist will talk with you about specific exercises designed to help heal your injury, improve the flexibility of your rotator cuff and shoulder muscles, and provide balanced shoulder muscle strength. Depending on the severity of your injury, physical therapy may take from several weeks to several months to reach maximum effectiveness.

Other rotator cuff injury treatments may include:

  • Injections. Depending on the severity of your pain, your doctor may use a corticosteroid injection to relieve inflammation and pain.
  • Surgery. If you have a large tear in your rotator cuff, you may need surgery to repair the tear. Sometimes during this kind of surgery doctors may remove a bone spur or calcium deposits. The surgery may be performed as an open repair through a 2 1/2- to 4-inch (6- to 10-centimeter) incision, as a mini-open repair through a 1 1/4- to 2-inch (3- to 5-centimeter) incision, or as an arthroscopic repair with the aid of a small camera inserted through a smaller incision.
  • Arthroplasty. Some long-standing rotator cuff tears over time may contribute to the development of rotator cuff arthropathy, which can include severe arthritis. In such cases, your doctor may discuss with you more extensive surgical options, including partial shoulder replacement (hemiarthroplasty) or total shoulder replacement (prosthetic arthroplasty).

A unique treatment option now available involves the use of a reverse ball-and-socket prosthesis. This reverse shoulder prosthesis is most appropriate for people who have very difficult shoulder problems. These include having arthritis in the joint, along with extensive tears of multiple muscles and tendons (rotator cuff) that support the shoulder, or having extensive rotator cuff tears and a failed previous shoulder joint replacement.

Rotator Cuff Injury? Stop the Pain today. Call +65 6471 2744 for Appointment or Email to milda@bone.com.sg

Biceps Rupture

biceps rupture involves a complete tear of the main tendon that attaches the top of the biceps muscle to the shoulder. It happens most often in middle-aged people and is usually due to years of wear and tear on the shoulder. A torn biceps in younger athletes sometimes occurs during weightlifting or from actions that cause a sudden load on the arm, such as hard fall with the arm outstretched.

Anatomy

What parts of the shoulder are affected?

The biceps muscle goes from the shoulder to the elbow on the front of the upper arm. Two separate tendons (tendons attach muscles to bones) connect the upper part of the biceps muscle to the shoulder. The upper two tendons of the biceps are called the proximal biceps tendons, because they are closer to the top of the arm.

The main proximal tendon is the long head of the biceps. It connects the biceps muscle to the top of the shoulder socket, theglenoid. Beginning at the glenoid, the tendon of the long head of the biceps travels down the front of the upper arm. The tendon runs within thebicipital groove and is held in place by the transverse humeral ligament.

The short head of the biceps connects on the corocoid process of the scapula. The corocoid process is a small bony knob just in from the front of the shoulder.

The lower biceps tendon is called the distal biceps tendon. The word distal means the tendon is further down the arm. The lower part of the biceps muscle connects to the elbow by this tendon.

The muscles forming the short and long heads of the biceps stay separate until just above the elbow where they unite and connect to the distal biceps tendon.

Tendons are made up of strands of a material called collagen. The collagen strands are lined up in bundles next to each other. Because the collagen strands in tendons are lined up, tendons have high tensile strength. This means they can withstand high forces that pull on both ends of the tendon. When muscles work, they pull on one end of the tendon. The other end of the tendon pulls on the bone, causing the bone to move.

Contracting the biceps muscle can bend the elbow upward. The biceps can also help flex the shoulder, lifting the arm up, a movement called flexion. And the muscle can rotate, or twist, the forearm in a way that points the palm of the hand up. This movement is called supination, which positions the hand as if you were holding a tray.

Causes

Why did my biceps rupture?

Biceps ruptures generally occur in people who are between 40 and 60 years old. People in this age group who’ve had shoulder problems for a long time are at most risk. Often the biceps ruptures after a long history of shoulder pain from tendonitis (inflammation of hte tendon) or problems with shoulder impingement. Shoulder impingement is a condition where the soft tissues between the ball of the upper arm and the top of the shoulder blade (acromion) get squeezed with arm motion.

Years of shoulder wear and tear begin to fray the biceps tendon. Eventually, the long head of the biceps weakens and becomes prone to tears or ruptures. Examination of the tissues within most torn or ruptured biceps tendons commonly shows signs of degeneration. Degeneration in a tendon causes a loss of the normal arrangement of the collagen fibers that join together to form the tendon. Some of the individual strands of the tendon become jumbled due to the degeneration, other fibers break, and the tendon loses strength.

A rupture of the biceps tendon can happen from a seemingly minor injury. When it happens for no apparent reason, the rupture is called nontraumatic.

Aging adults with rotator cuff tears also commonly have a biceps tendon rupture. When the rotator cuff is torn, the ball of the humerus is free to move too far up and forward in the shoulder socket and can impact the biceps tendon. The damage may begin to weaken the biceps tendon and cause it to eventually rupture.

Symptoms

What does a ruptured biceps feel like?

Patients often recall hearing and feeling a snap in the top of the shoulder. Immediate and sharp pain follow. The pain often subsides quickly with a complete rupture because tension is immediately taken off the pain sensors in the tendon. Soon afterward, bruising may develop in the middle of the upper arm and spread down to the elbow. The biceps may appear to have balled up, especially in younger patients who’ve had a traumatic biceps rupture. The arm may feel weak at first with attempts to bend the elbow or lift the shoulder.

The biceps tendon sometimes only tears part of the way. If so, a pop may not be felt or heard. Instead, the front of the shoulder may simply be painful, and the arm may feel weak with the same arm movements that are affected with a complete biceps rupture.

Diagnosis

How can my doctor be sure my biceps ruptured?

Your doctor will first take a detailed medical history. You will need to answer questions about your shoulder, if you feel pain or weakness, and how this is affecting your regular activities. You’ll also be asked about past shoulder pain or injuries.

The physical exam is often most helpful in diagnosing a rupture of the biceps tendon. Your doctor may position your arm to see which movements are painful or weak. By feeling the area of the muscle and tendon, the doctor can often tell if the tendon has ruptured. The muscle may look and feel balled up in the middle of the arm, and a dent can sometimes be felt near the top of the shoulder.

X-rays may be ordered. X-rays show the bones that form the shoulder joint and may show bony changes that have contributed to a ruptured biceps. For example, bone spurs (small projections of bone) may be seen on the X-ray. Spurs that form near the biceps tendon will often puncture the tendon as the arm is used with activity. X-rays can also show if there are other problems, such as a fracture. Plain X-rays do not show soft tissues like tendons and will not show a biceps rupture.

Your doctor may also order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. This is the most reliable way to check whether the biceps tendon is only partially torn or if the tendon actually ruptured. An MRI is a special imaging test that uses magnetic waves to create pictures of the shoulder in slices. The MRI can also show if there are other problems in the shoulder.

Treatment

What treatment options are available?

Nonsurgical Treatment

Doctors usually treat a ruptured long head of biceps tendon without surgery. This is especially true for older individuals who can tolerate loss of arm strength or if the injury occurs in the nondominant arm.

Not having surgery usually only results in a moderate loss of strength. The short head of the biceps is still attached and continues to supply strength to raise the arm up. Flexion of the elbow may be affected, but supination (the motion of twisting the forearm such as when you use a screwdriver) is usually affected more. Not repairing a ruptured biceps reduces supination strength by about 20 percent.

Nonsurgical measures could include a sling to rest the shoulder. Patients may be given anti-inflammatory medicine to help ease pain and swelling and to help return people to activity sooner after a biceps tendon rupture.

Doctors may have their patients work with a physical or occupational therapist. At first, your therapist will give you tips how to rest your shoulder and how to do your activities without putting extra strain on the sore area.

Your therapist may apply ice and electrical stimulation to ease pain. Exercises are used to gradually strengthen other muscles that help do the work of a normal biceps muscle.

Surgery

Surgery is reserved for patients who need arm strength, are concerned with cosmetics of the balled up biceps, or who have pain that won’t go away.

Biceps Tenodesis

Biceps tenodesis is a surgery to anchor the ruptured end of the biceps tendon. A common method, called the keyhole technique, involves anchoring the ruptured end to the upper end of the humerus. The keyhole describes the shape of a small hole made by the surgeon in the humerus. The end of the tendon is slid into the top of the keyhole and pulled down to anchor it in place.

The surgeon begins by making an incision on the front of the shoulder, just above the axilla (armpit). The overlying muscles are separated so the surgeon can locate the damaged end of the biceps tendon. The end of the biceps tendon is prepared by cutting away frayed and degenerated tissue.

The transverse humeral ligament is split, exposing the bicipital groove. An incision is made along the floor of the bicipital groove. The bleeding from the incision gets scar tissue to form that will help anchor the repaired tendon in place.

burr is used to form a keyhole-shaped cavity within the bicipital groove. The top of the cavity is round. The bottom is the slot of the keyhole. It is made the same width as the biceps tendon.

The surgeon rolls the top end of the biceps tendon into a ball. Sutures are used to form and hold the ball. The elbow is bent, taking tension off the biceps muscle and tendon. The surgeon pushes the tendon ball into the top part of the keyhole. As the elbow is gradually straightened, the ball is pulled firmly into the narrow slot in the lower end of the keyhole.

The surgeon tests the stability of the attachment by bending and straightening the elbow. When the surgeon is satisfied with the repair, the skin incisions are closed, and the shoulder is placed in a protective sling.

Acromioplasty and Direct Tenodesis

This procedure may be used for younger patients who’ve had a recent traumatic biceps rupture, have problems with impingement, and who have an injured rotator cuff.

Acromioplasty involves cutting and reshaping the acromion, the bone that forms the top part of the shoulder. Some surgeons will also sever thecorocohumeral ligament, which arches over the top of the shoulder joint. These steps relieve pressure on the tissues between the ball of the humerus and the acromion, including the biceps and rotator cuff tendons. For this reason, this procedure is sometimes called subacromial decompression. The ruptured end of the biceps is then anchored to the upper end of the humerus. This is called direct tenodesis.

The surgeon begins by making an incision across the top of the shoulder. The shoulder muscles are separated to expose the top of the humerus. Bone spurs are removed, along with part of the acromion. The surgeon then smooths the rough ends of the bone.

After the acromioplasty procedure, the surgeon focuses on the biceps tendon. When the bicipital groove is in view, the transverse humeral ligament is cut. Next, an osteotome is used to open the joint capsule and create a trough next to the bicipital groove. Three small holes are drilled along each side of the trough. The surgeon places the loose end of the biceps tendon in the new groove.

Sutures are woven into one drill hole, through the tendon, and out the opposite drill hole. This is repeated for the remaining two sets of drill holes. Next, the top end of the ruptured tendon is cut off. Finally, the three sutures are firmly secured.

When the surgeon is satisfied with the repair, the transverse humeral ligament and joint capsule are sutured, followed by the skin incision. The arm is bent at the elbow and placed in a light splint that is to be worn for four weeks after surgery.

Rehabilitation

What should I expect after treatment?

Nonsurgical Rehabilitation

In cases where the ruptured biceps tendon is treated nonsurgically, you will need to avoid heavy arm activity for three to four weeks. As the pain and swelling resolve, you should be safe to begin doing more normal activities.

If the tendon is only partially torn, however, recovery takes longer. Patients usually need to rest the shoulder using a protective sling. As symptoms ease, a carefully progressed rehabilitation program under the supervision of a physical or occupational therapist usually follows. This often involves four to six weeks of therapy.

After Surgery

Immediately after surgery, you’ll need to wear your shoulder sling for about four weeks. Some surgeons prefer to have their patients start a gentle range-of-motion program soon after surgery. When you start therapy, your first few therapy sessions may involve ice and electrical stimulation treatments to help control pain and swelling from the surgery. Your therapist may also use massage and other types of hands-on treatments to ease muscle spasm and pain.

You will gradually start exercises to improve movement in the forearm, elbow, and shoulder. You need to be careful to avoid doing too much, too quickly.

Heavier exercises for the biceps muscle are avoided until at least four to six weeks after surgery. Your therapist may begin with light isometric strengthening exercises. These exercises work the biceps muscle without straining the healing tendon.

At about six weeks, you start doing more active strengthening. As you progress, your therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen and stabilize the muscles and joints of the elbow and shoulder. Other exercises will work your arm in ways that are similar to your work tasks and sport activities. Your therapist will help you find ways to do your tasks that don’t put too much stress on your shoulder.

You may require therapy for six to eight weeks. It generally takes three to four months, however, to safely begin doing forceful biceps activity after surgery. Before your therapy sessions end, your therapist will teach you a number of ways to avoid future problems.

Stop the pain and get your Shoulder checked.

Stop the pain and get your Shoulder checked today! Call +65 6471 2744 or Email to: info@boneclinic.com.sg

Rotator Cuff Injury and Inflammation

Rotator cuff injury and inflammation is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. There are three common conditions that can affect the rotator cuff: rotator cuff tendonitis, rotator cuff impingement syndrome and a rotator cuff tear. Most people with rotator cuff problems can be successfully treated by a combination of rest, painkillers, anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy and injections.

The shoulder joint

There are three bones in the shoulder region, the clavicle (collar bone), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus (upper arm bone). The scapula is a triangular-shaped bone that has two important parts to it: the acromion and the glenoid. The three bones in the shoulder region form part of two main joints:

  • The acromioclavicular joint between the acromion of the scapula and the clavicle.
  • The glenohumeral joint between the glenoid of the scapula and the humerus.

There are also a number of muscles, ligaments and tendons around the shoulder. Ligaments are fibres that link bones together at a joint. Tendons are fibres that attach muscle to bone.

What is the rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that are positioned around the shoulder joint. The muscles are named:

  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Subscapularis
  • Teres minor

The rotator cuff muscles work as a unit. They help to stabilise the shoulder joint and also help with shoulder joint movement. The four tendons of the rotator cuff muscles join together to form one larger tendon, called the rotator cuff tendon. This tendon attaches to the head of the humerus (the bony surface at the top of the upper arm bone). There is a space underneath the acromion of the scapula, called the subacromial space. The rotator cuff tendon passes through here.

What are the types of rotator cuff injury/inflammation?

There are a number of different problems that can affect the rotator cuff and lead to rotator cuff injury or inflammation. The most common problems include:

  • Rotator cuff tendonitis
  • Rotator cuff impingement syndrome
  • Rotator cuff tear

Rotator cuff tendonitis

Who gets rotator cuff tendonitis?

Rotator cuff tendonitis is the most common cause of shoulder pain.

What causes rotator cuff tendonitis?

Rotator cuff tendonitis is caused by irritation and inflammation of the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles. It tends to have an acute (sudden) onset. There is often a specific preceding injury. It can happen because of recent overuse of the shoulder. For example, it can occur in athletes, particularly those who participate in throwing sports. In non-athletes, there may be a history of recent heavy lifting or activities involving repetitive movements of the shoulder.

Sometimes the rotator cuff tendons can become ‘calcified’. This is when calcium is deposited in the tendons due to long-standing inflammation. This is called calcific tendonitis.

What are the symptoms of rotator cuff tendonitis?

The main symptoms are an acute (sudden) onset of pain and painful movement of the shoulder. Pain is worst when you use your arm for activities above your shoulder level. This means that the pain can affect your ability to lift your arm up – for example, to comb your hair or dress yourself. Swimming, basketball and painting can be painful but writing and typing can produce little in the way of pain. Pain may also affect sleep.

How is rotator cuff tendonitis diagnosed?

Our doctor is usually able to make the diagnosis just by talking to you and examining your shoulder. They usually start by asking questions about your shoulder. These questions may include when your shoulder problems started, whether you have had any specific injury and what aggravates your shoulder problem.

They may then perform an examination of your shoulder. This usually involves moving your shoulder in various positions. One of the tests that can help to diagnose rotator cuff tendonitis is called the ‘painful arc test’. Our doctor may ask you to start with your arm by your side and then lift your arm outwards from your side in an arc. In rotator cuff tendonitis, pain is usually felt at a maximum between 70 and 120° in this arc.

Occasionally, Our doctor may suggest an X-ray of your shoulder or they may refer you for more detailed investigations such as an ultrasound scan or an MRI scan.

What are the treatment options for rotator cuff tendonitis?

  • Rest: this is the main treatment for rotator cuff tendonitis. You should stop any aggravating activities that may have brought on the tendonitis. However, do not completely rest your shoulder. You should still try to keep your shoulder mobile.
  • Painkillers: painkillers such as paracetamol are usually helpful. Occasionally, stronger painkillers may be needed.
  • Anti-inflammatories: these are painkillers but they also reduce inflammation and are commonly prescribed. Side-effects sometimes occur with anti-inflammatories. Always read the leaflet that comes with the drug packet for a full list of cautions and possible side-effects.
  • Physiotherapy: your doctor may refer you to a physiotherapist for advice and exercises.
  • Injections: these can help reduce the inflammation in the rotator cuff tendons. Injections can be repeated if the initial response is good.

Calcific tendonitis is treated in the same way with rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections and physiotherapy. Rarely, surgery is needed. An alternative to surgery is a procedure called lithotripsy. In lithotripsy, shock waves are generated and delivered by an external power source to the affected tendon(s) using a specialised machine known as a lithotripter. This helps to break up the deposits of calcium.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for rotator cuff tendonitis?

If rotator cuff tendonitis is adequately treated, there can be complete recovery.

If treatment of any rotator cuff problem is delayed or inadequate, it can lead to the affected person being cautious about moving their shoulder because of pain. This means that the shoulder can stiffen up and can lead to adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder). See separate leaflet called ‘Frozen Shoulder’.

Rotator cuff impingement syndrome

What causes rotator cuff impingement syndrome?

As discussed above, the rotator cuff tendon passes in the subacromial space (the space underneath the acromion part of the scapula, or shoulder blade). In impingement syndrome, the rotator cuff tendon gets ‘trapped’ in the subacromial space. The tendon is repeatedly ‘scraped’ against the shoulder blade which can eventually lead to fraying of the tendon. This means that the tendon weakens and is more likely to tear.

Impingement syndrome can occur because of long-standing ‘wear and tear’. It can also happen due to problems with the bone of the acromion. These can include arthritis and bony spurs (protrusions).

What are the symptoms of rotator cuff impingement syndrome

Rotator cuff impingement syndrome also causes shoulder pain. However, the pain tends to be more chronic (long-standing). The pain tends to be worse during activities when your arm is raised over your head. Pain can also be worse at night time.

How is rotator cuff impingement syndrome diagnosed?

Again, our doctor will usually diagnose rotator cuff impingement syndrome just by talking to you and examining your shoulder. You will experience the same painful arc as described above when your shoulder is moved.

Our doctor may also perform a special test when they examine your shoulder called the Neer Impingement Test. In this test they ask you to straighten your arm. They then raise your arm forward, keeping your palm pointing away from your body. If this test is painful, the test is positive and rotator cuff impingement syndrome is likely.

What are the treatment options for rotator cuff impingement syndrome?

The treatment for rotator cuff impingement syndrome is similar to that for rotator cuff tendonitis. You should rest from any activity that involves repetitive movement of the shoulder. This particularly includes overhead activity such as that performed by plasterers or painters and decorators. This may mean that you have to modify or change your work activities. However, be careful to keep your shoulder mobile so that it does not stiffen up. Painkillers, anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy and injections can help.

If these treatments do not work, some people with rotator cuff impingement syndrome need to have an operation to ‘widen’ the subacromial space. This is usually referred to as a ‘decompression’ operation.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for rotator cuff impingement syndrome?

If rotator cuff impingement syndrome is not recognised and treated promptly, it can lead to excessive wear and tear of the rotator cuff tendon. This in turn can lead to weakening of the tendon and the tendon can break, or rupture, causing a rotator cuff tear.

Some people do not have any symptoms from rotator cuff impingement syndrome and may not realise that they have it until they get a rotator cuff tear.

Rotator cuff tears

Who gets rotator cuff tears?

Rotator cuff tears are most common in people over the age of 40 years.

What causes a rotator cuff tear?

Rotator cuff tears are usually tears in the rotator cuff tendon rather than in the muscles themselves. In younger people, a rotator cuff tear normally happens as a result of trauma (injury) due to a fall or accident. In older people, they are often caused by rotator cuff impingement syndrome. In impingement syndrome, repeated damage to the ‘trapped’ tendon means that the tendon frays, weakens and is more likely to tear.

Rotator cuff tears can be minor/partial or full/complete depending on the degree of damage to the tendon.

What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear?

Pain is the most common symptom of a rotator cuff tear. The pain tends to be over the front and outer part of the shoulder. It is worse when your shoulder is moved in certain positions. For example, when your arm is moved above your head on dressing or combing your hair, or moved forwards to reach for something.

Your shoulder or arm can also feel weak and you may have reduced movement in your shoulder. Some people feel clicking or catching when they move their shoulder.

How is a rotator cuff tear diagnosed?

  • History and examination: again, our doctor will usually be able to diagnose a rotator cuff tear by talking to you and examining your shoulder.
  • The ‘drop arm test’: one of the tests that can help to diagnose a rotator cuff tear is called the ‘drop arm test’. If our doctor carries out this test they will ask you to stand with your arm by your side. They will lift your arm outwards from your side and up towards your head. They will then ask you to move your arm back down slowly towards your side. In a rotator cuff tear, you are usually able to lower your arm slowly to 90° but when you try to lower your arm below 90°, it drops quickly to your side because of the tear.
  • Other investigations: occasionally, our doctor may suggest an X-ray of your shoulder or they may refer you for more detailed investigations such as an ultrasound or MRI scan.
  • Referral to a specialist: if our doctor suspects a complete/full tear of your rotator cuff, they may suggest that they refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon (bone and joint specialist).

What are the treatment options for a rotator cuff tear?

  • Painkillers: painkillers such as paracetamol are usually helpful in rotator cuff tears. Occasionally, stronger painkillers may be needed.
  • Anti-inflammatories: our doctor may also suggest that you take regular anti-inflammatories. These are painkillers but they also reduce inflammation and are commonly prescribed. Side-effects sometimes occur with anti-inflammatories. Always read the leaflet that comes with the drug packet for a full list of cautions and possible side-effects.
  • Ice packs: these can also help to reduce pain. A bag of frozen peas is an easy ice pack to use in the home.
  • Physiotherapy: this may be helpful for people with minor rotator cuff tears. Our doctor may refer you to a physiotherapist for advice and shoulder exercises.
  • Injections: sometimes our doctor may suggest injections around your shoulder joint as a treatment for minor tears. The idea is that the injection may help to reduce any inflammation.
  • Surgery: this is sometimes needed in large/complete tears. Surgery usually involves decompression (widening) of the space underneath the acromion and may also include repair of the rotator cuff tendon. The surgery can be done using either a keyhole or an open method.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for rotator cuff tears?

About half of people with rotator cuff tears do well with just conservative treatment. That means the rotator cuff tears heal with treatment including rest, physiotherapy, painkillers, anti-inflammatories and injections. Surgery is needed in the other half in whom this conservative treatment does not work.

Stop your shoulder pain and get it checked. Call +65 6471 2744 (24 Hours) or Email to: info@boneclinic.com.sg

Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator Cuff Injury

The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons that covers the humeral head and controls arm rotation and elevation. These muscles and their tendons work together with the deltoid muscle to provide motion and strength to the shoulder for all waist-level and shoulder-level or above activities.

Rotator cuff tendonitis is an inflammation of a group of muscles in the shoulder together with an inflammation of the lubrication mechanism called the BURSA. In fact, ‘bursitis’ should not be considered a diagnosis but rather a symptom of rotator cuff tendonitis.

This condition is often caused by or associated with repetitive overhead activities such as throwing, raking, washing cars or windows and many other types of highly repetitive motions. It may also occur as a result of an injury. Rotator cuff injuries are the most common cause of shoulder pain and limitation of activities in sports in all age groups. Rotator cuff tendonitis is the mildest form of rotator cuff injury.

The shoulder has a unique arrangement of muscle and bone. The rotator cuff (which is muscle) is sandwiched between two bones much like a sock lies between the heel and the edge of a shoe. In the same way that repeated walking eventually wears out the sock, the rotator cuff muscles fray with repeated rubbing on the bone. As the muscle begins to fray, it responds to the injury by becoming inflamed and painful. With continued fraying, like a rope, it may eventually tear.

What are the symptoms?

The classic symptoms include a ‘toothache’ like pain radiating from the outer arm to several inches below the top of the shoulder. Pain may also occur in the front and top of the shoulder. It may interfere with sleeping comfortably. It may even awaken people from a sound sleep with a nagging pain in the upper arm.

The symptoms are usually aggravated by raising the arms overhead or in activities that require reaching behind the body, such as retrieving an object from the back seat of a car. Furthermore, reaching behind the back to fasten underclothing or to pass a belt may aggravate the arm and shoulder pain.

A clicking in the shoulder may occur when raising the arm above the head.

What are my treatment options?

A thorough history and physical exam will nearly always lead to a correct diagnosis. X-rays will often show changes on the arm bone where the rotator cuff muscles attach, but an MRI provides the definitive diagnosis. This test clearly shows the muscles and indicates if the muscle is inflamed, injured or torn.

Medical

The following steps should be taken as a conservative approach to treating rotator cuff tendonitis:

  • Stop or markedly decrease the activity that required the use of the shoulder at or above shoulder level.
  • Apply ice to the affected area.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medication to reduce arm and shoulder pain.
  • Begin an exercise program to maintain flexibility.
  • Avoid carrying heavy objects with the affected arm or using shoulder-strap bags on the affected side.

In the early phases, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may provide benefit. However, to allow the inflammation to resolve, it is vital to curtail any repetitive activity and it is equally important to try to keep the elbow below the shoulder level when using the arm.

Daily stretching while in a hot shower is also beneficial. If shoulder pain becomes more severe, prescription strength medication or a cortisone type injection may help.

Cortisone injections can be very effective in the treatment of the pain. When used, injections should be done in conjunction with a home exercise program for flexibility and strengthening, modification of activities and ice. Other pain controlling options include heat, ice, ultrasound and therapeutic message.

For a young patient under the age of 30 and with a first time episode of rotator cuff tendonitis that is treated immediately with the above protocol, the average length of time for rehabilitation is two to four weeks. For those with recurrent episodes of tendonitis and some risk factors, rotator cuff tendonitis may take months to heal and in rare cares may require surgery.

Surgical

If symptoms persist, surgery to remove a spur on the acromion can increase the space available for the inflamed tendon and may prevent further fraying or complete rupture. If an MRI shows a complete muscle injury, surgical repair may be required.

Surgery for recurrent rotator cuff tendonitis (bursitis) is occasionally performed to:

  • Remove a prominence or spur on the undersurface of the acromion.
  • Remove chronically inflamed, thickened and fibrotic bursal tissue.
  • Inspect the tendons and tidy up and sometimes repair a tear in the tendons.

These procedures are often done in combination. This can be done either through an open or an arthroscopic approach with the start of an early rehabilitation program one or two days after surgery and advancing to a more comprehensive program between two and five weeks after surgery. The initiation and progression of these exercises is dependent upon the patient’s findings at surgery, surgical procedure and rate of healing.

What do I need to do the day of surgery?

  • If you currently take any medications, take them the day of your surgery with just a sip of water.
  • Do not wear any jewelry, body piercing, makeup, nail polish, hairpins or contacts.
  • Leave valuables and money at home.
  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.

How long is the recovery period after surgery?

The time for complete recovery is variable and can range from two to four weeks for a first-time mild episode treated properly to several weeks or months for chronic or recurrent cases or in people with more extensive surgery.

In most case, a sport specific program can begin four to six weeks after surgery, with a return to competition six to twelve weeks after surgery. This will need to be customized to your situation. Your doctor will tell you what is appropriate for your condition.

What is the rehab after surgery?

Although there is no one set protocol for rehabilitation for rotator cuff tendonitis several principles should be followed:

  1. Regain all passive range of motion first.
  2. Begin strengthening the rotator cuff with the arm by the side.
  3. Add deltoid and shoulder level strengthening when the shoulder is less painful.
  4. Be sure to strengthen the muscles that control the shoulder blade to regain normal smooth shoulder blade motion and strength when the arm is fully elevated overhead. The level of strengthening is dependent upon the individual needs of the person and the physical demands that he or she intends to place on the shoulder as well as the progress made in the initial program.

Before returning to sports, a sport-specific component to the rehabilitation program should be started that includes an initial return to a non-competitive level of sport participation. In the sport-specific rehabilitation, the athlete performs the activity for 25-50 percent effort (duration, frequency and intensity). If the athlete performs well at this level without pain over a few days then the activity can be increased over the next few days in intensity, frequency and duration.

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Shoulder AC Joint Injury

What is the Acromioclavicular Joint?

The AC joint is short for the acromioclavicular joint. Separation of the two bones forming this joint is caused by damage to the ligaments connecting them. It is sometimes also referred to as a shoulder separation injury.

The acromioclavicular joint is formed by the outer end of the clavicle (collar bone) and the acromion process of the scapular (shoulder blade). The acromion is a bony process which protrudes forwards from the upper part of the scapular. This joint forms the highest part of the shoulder.

The two bones are attached by the acromioclavicular (AC) ligament. There are several other ligaments which can be of importance in AC joint injuries, including the coracoclavicular (CC) ligament (divided into conoid and trapezoid sections) which joins the clavicle to the coracoid process, another forward protruding part of the scapula, slightly below and to the inside of the acromion.

A third ligament is the coracoacromial ligament which attaches the acromion process to the coracoid process, although it is rarely involved in this type of injury.The most common way of injuring the AC joint is by landing on the shoulder, elbow, or onto an outstretched hand.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain at the end of the collar bone
  • Pain may feel widespread throughout the shoulder until the initial pain resolves, following this it is more likely to be a very specific site of pain over the joint itself
  • Swelling often occurs
  • Depending on the extent of the injury a step-deformity may be visible. This is an obvious lump where the joint has been disrupted and is visible on more severe injuries
  • Pain on moving the shoulder, especially when trying to raise the arms above shoulder height

AC joint injuries are graded from 1-6 using the Rockwood scale which classifies injuries in relation to the extent of ligament damage and the space between the acromion and clavicle, as shown in the pictures opposite.

Grade 1 is a simple sprain to the AC joint, grade 2 involves rupture of the AC ligament and grade 3 rupture of both AC and CC ligaments which often results in a superior displacement. From this point onwards the scale and grade of injury depends on the degree of displacement of the clavicle.

Grade 4 involves posterior displacement and grade 5 superior displacement, to a greater degree than grade 3, with an increase in coracoclavicular space by 3-5 times the norm. A step deformity may be apparent with grade 3, 4 & 5 injuries. Grade 6 (not shown) involves full rupture of both AC and CC ligaments with the clavicle being displaced inferiorly.

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