Daily, we do not appreciate how great it is that we can move our hands, lift our cups and wash our hair. If the shoulder suddenly hurts and the arm does not move as before, we should never leave it unattended.
The cause needs to be clarified as soon as possible. The longer we try to ignore this problem, the worse the chances of restoring shoulder joint function.
Unless a person is deeply interested in anatomy or medicine, they do not think daily about what muscles in the shoulder perform functions that seem self-evident.
For example, raise your hand to wash your face, take a jug and drink water, open a cupboard, comb your hair, and do other daily activities.
However, the anatomy of the shoulder, like everything in the human body, is a finely crafted mechanism. If something goes wrong, the consequences are unpleasant – a serious disruption of normal functions.
I can’t imagine a morning when you can no longer raise your hand. What happened? Damage to the rotator cuff in the shoulder joint is possible.
Know Your Body
The shoulder or rotator cuff consists of four muscles that have only Latin names.
These muscles help the shoulder be where it is and to maintain the correct position of the head of the upper arm against the shoulder blade.
Its most important role is in providing the lifting and rotation of the upper arm by the deltoid muscles, together with the cuff muscles.
If it seems too complicated, you will surely have seen the doll Barbie with a removable hand, which can then be put in place.
This is exactly the part of the connection we were talking about. Here, if something goes wrong in the muscles of the cuff, the functions it provides are impaired.
My Shoulder Hurts!
If there is any damage to the rotator cuff, the person will feel it immediately. The first signal – the arm can not be raised at a 45-degree angle to the side, because it causes pain.
If someone helps and raises his hand above an angle of 120 degrees, the pain disappears. Next is a little more troublesome pain, as it interferes with basic daily things.
For example, pick up a cup of coffee every morning. This may show a problem with the muscle supraspinatus.
The pain is very sharp, which cannot be overlooked, night pain is typical, when it is difficult to find a posture in which to sleep, this pain wakes up and interferes with sleep. There may also be stiffness and weakness in the shoulder.
Usually, when there is pain, a person does not go to the doctor immediately, and it is difficult to sign up for a visit.
If there has been no injury – neither a bruise nor a fall, then first aid is the immobilisation of the anti-inflammatory drug and the sore spot which helps to ease the situation.
While waiting for an appointment with a doctor, a consultation with a physiotherapist is also useful.
It should be remembered that not all pain means that a rupture has occurred, and various inflammatory processes may have started.
For example, inflammation in the joint sac gives the same symptoms as a cuff injury. If the pain does not subside within three days, sign up for an in-depth diagnosis.
If there has been an injury, an X-ray will be useful to look for bone damage, but with pain of unknown origin, an X-ray will not be the examination that will provide the information about the treatment needed.
We should note it that injuries, both those caused by sports and unsuccessful lifting of weights, can also cause damage to the cuff.
What Investigations Need To Be Done
The best and most exploratory examination is magnetic resonance imaging, but it is not readily available and expensive, so the first examination that should be done is ultrasonography.
This examination immediately shows what happened in the shoulder – whether there is inflammation, partial muscle rupture or complete rupture.
However, even after ultrasonography, at the start of treatment, the patient is often referred for magnetic resonance imaging for a more accurate examination, where it is possible to examine the soft tissue and see if surgery is required.
Very rarely, surgery is prescribed without magnetic resonance imaging.
Inflammation Must Not Be Ignored
Treatment does not always mean surgery. In case of inflammation, your doctor may prescribe a blockade or injection with ultrasonographic monitoring.
This means administering painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs at the exact site of inflammation, followed by physiotherapy.
Instead of blocking, your doctor may prescribe a PRP injection that has a growth factor and anti-inflammatory effect.
If there is inflammation in the shoulder cuff, but we treat it only with anti-inflammatory drugs, and we do not observe the rest of the injured area, the muscles become brittle and any incorrect movement may cause a rupture.
We should note it that the treatment process will unfortunately not be fast – even for half a year or more, but it is possible to avoid surgery.
Partial And Complete Rupture
In case of partial rupture, they may give plasma injections into the muscle. It is taken from the patient’s blood, treated and re-administered into the shoulder muscle.
The result will require one to three such injections. How does it help? Plasma has a magnificent property – it contains growth factors that allow the damaged muscle to regenerate itself, and it has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Immobilization of the injured site is also important. During this procedure, we perform ultrasonography in a controlled manner, observing the improvement of the situation.
In most cases, the damaged muscle tissue grows, regenerates, and we need no surgery. If the situation does not improve, surgery is required, and in case a complete rupture is detected.
Start Treatment ASAP
When treating a shoulder cuff injury, it is important to remember that it is important when starting treatment. The sooner the affected area receives treatment, the better the results.
This applies to both partial and complete muscle rupture. If the rupture (hence the pain) is ignored and suppressed with painkillers, over time the muscles change their usual place and are no longer attached to the stone.
Unfortunately, sometimes even with surgery, the muscle cannot be pulled back into place. As a result, muscle atrophies, muscle fibers disappear, but it forms instead fat fibers.
This means that the shoulder cuff can no longer perform its function – keep the shoulder in position.
Therefore, the person will have limited movements and severe pain when the bone rubs against the bone. Here, arthroscopy, in which a “pad” containing sodium chloride solution is inserted between the bones, may help.
This will help reduce friction between the collarbone and the shoulder bone, so the pain will disappear.
However, unfortunately, it will not restore movements, so it will not be possible, for example, to wash your hair and do other movements that require raising your hands.
Therefore, it is very important to treat the damaged area in time and not postpone it for half a year or even a year, according to doctors’ experience.
In addition, restoring movement will require long and conscientious work with a physiotherapist.
Minor Cuts – A Good Result
If the doctor has tried everything, but we need surgery, the shoulder joint is operated arthroscopically.
This means it makes three to six tiny incisions in the skin, through which a miniature camera connected to a computer is inserted into the shoulder, and subtle tools can be used to:
- assess and repair all joint damage at once
- repair damaged ligaments and muscle tendons
- clean the deposits of thickened tissues and salts
This method is excellent because it is less traumatic, and gentle, the cuts heal quickly. The operation usually lasts an hour or hour and a half, it depends on the lesion, and it takes place under full anesthesia. The next morning the patient can go home.
Can It Happen To Me?
We are all at risk, but especially people over the age of forty. Athletes, weightlifters, tennis players, volleyball players are at greater risk.
Older people have a much higher risk of degenerative changes in the bone, so even if a person feels young and strong in spirit, be sure to be careful with weight lifting over the years and do it properly using the biceps.