When you hear the phrase “rotator cuff tear,” you might feel frightened. And it’s true that fraying the connective tissues in the shoulder is never a good thing, and can result in permanent debilitation without intervention. But rotator cuff tears are not always sudden, and a person may spend a long time pushing through their discomfort, unaware that their situation is becoming more urgent. At ChiroCareLA in Glendale, we provide non-invasive, non-addictive treatments for shoulder pain and other musculoskeletal problems, but since gentle interventions are most effective when done early, we want our patients to understand why they should seek help for shoulder pain as soon as possible.
The shoulder is where the ball of the upper arm bone (the humerus), fits into a socket formed by the collarbone (clavicle) and shoulder blade (scapula). A group of tendons formed by four muscles strap the humerus in place, along with a seal of cartilage surrounding the socket joint. This joint is loose enough to allow the arm to move in every direction, and is lubricated by bursae, which are small sacks of fluid. Although the shoulder can suffer an acute injury, in which the tendons are suddenly torn, it’s more common for them to gradually fray from a combination of repetitive stress and diminished blood supply as a patient ages. People who have to frequently lift their arms above their heads, such as painters and tennis players, are at particularly high risk.
Slow fraying in your shoulder won’t cause you to suddenly be unable to move it, but you may notice it frequently being stiff and uncomfortable to rest on when you’re trying to sleep. If you continue to overuse the shoulder, it will continue to fray, until it may experience a severe break. However, we offer several means of treating rotator cuff injuries after identifying them. Besides physical therapy to rebuild the shoulder muscles’ strength, we also perform anti-inflammatory therapies such as ultrasounds and low-level laser. These treatments will allow blood to flow through the shoulder more easily, providing it with the nutrients it needs to rebuild frayed tendons. We can also perform chiropractic adjustments to ensure the shoulder bones are aligned properly.