When all else fails…go see your primary care doc or your local orthopod. You’ve tried resting your shoulder. You made sure you didn’t lose range of motion. You’ve changed things around in your refrigerator and stopped drying your hair. You gave your t-ball aged kids up for adoption, quit your job and dropped your membership at the gym. You’ve rubbed your shoulder raw and now have to have an upper GI because you’ve developed a stomach ulcer. Okay…maybe a little before that. But you’ve still got that gnawing little pain around the front and side of your shoulder that radiates down the deltoid muscle. It continues to wake you up at night. It’s even bothering you to drive. It’s time to come see me.
As I mentioned in the first blog on shoulder bursitis; this is part of a spectrum of disorders related to the rotator cuff. If not addressed, it is likely to progress. We’re going to try physical therapy, cortisone injections and prescription strength medications first. And if you haven’t done any of the things I’ve talked about in this blog…we’re going to do some of that too. Sometimes a relatively minor surgical procedure can be used to treat this condition, if you fail to improve with conservative treatment.
But bursitis often progresses to rotator cuff tendonitis and ultimately to rotator cuff tears. Tears often require surgery, and sometimes if the tears are chronic and massively large, they are not repairable. You might think that you would know if you had a large, chronic tear, but it’s amazing how often we see this devastating condition. And I would have to say that this condition is completely preventable. It just requires a little awareness, some preemptive action on your part, and possible a visit to your doctor. And don’t have that common attitude that it’s just something you’re going to have to live with. Because it’s not.
I’ve had a request to talk about tennis elbow. I would take requests if you have them. Tennis elbow next.