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dedtired

Rotator cuff is hurting a lot. Your experience?

dedtired
last month

I’ve had on and off rotator cuff problems for years. I got a cortisone shot about a month ago, which has always helped in the past. This time it helped for awhile but it’s killing me at the moment. I am going for an mri to figure out what’s going on. Ive had PT in the past which didn’t help much. I’d love to find another solution besides surgery.


I know it’s a pretty common complaint. Has anyone here successfully overcome it without surgery? If you did have surgery, how did that go and how long was the recovery? TIA.

Comments (41)

  • eld6161
    last month

    While we wait for those with experience, so sorry you are going through this. Hope someone comes forward with a solution.

    dedtired thanked eld6161
  • jewelisfabulous
    last month

    Two of my immediate family members had surgery to repair their rotator cuff. One required more extensive repairs, which led to a longer recovery -- probably 16 weeks in all (with PT) with the first two weeks the most intense. The other didn't feel nearly as much pain and had a 10 week recovery counting PT. Both got relief and more function of that arm once the cuff was surgically fixed. If you go for the surgery, get a recliner for sitting/sleeping the first few weeks and get a polar-ice cooler/machine to help keep the swelling down.

    dedtired thanked jewelisfabulous
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  • jewels_ks
    last month

    My dh had rotator cuff surgery about 1.5 years ago. He had a massive tear from a bone spur so his is totally different than yours. He was told his recovery would take one year and it did. He started PT six weeks after surgery, ( the first 6 weeks his shoulder was kept unmovable in a sling). He still does some of the PT exercises on his own. His everyday life is back to normal, but his gym workouts have had to change.

    dedtired thanked jewels_ks
  • ravencajun Zone 8b TX
    last month

    Yes I chose not to have surgery. Both of my sisters had surgery and both said they wished they had not. They said if they could do it over knowing what they knew after surgery they definitely would skip surgery. I made my decision partly because of their situations and partly because I really didn't think it was necessary. I am fine now and have to stop and think about which one it was. I chose to go with the use of cold red laser treatments which were amazingly helpful. And tens treatments. And some physical therapy.

    Best of luck with what ever you decide to do!

    dedtired thanked ravencajun Zone 8b TX
  • mdln
    last month

    second opinion ortho doc, cold, naproxen/Aleve (twice a day), physical therapy (3rd therapist helped)

    dedtired thanked mdln
  • foodonastump
    last month

    RC what was your diagnosis? I’ve had problems for years, finally got so bad I went to an ortho who was sure I had a tear - until he saw the MRI and said nope. Blaming it on arthritis and generically “inflammation”, gave me a cortisone shot which didn’t help at all snd sent me on my way. I get similar wishy-washy diagnoses for my knees. A little of this, a little of that, nothing to go in after, live with it until you’re ready for replacement.

    dedtired thanked foodonastump
  • dedtired
    Original Author
    last month

    Oh please, FOAS, I do not even want to think about replacement. I’ll be interested to see the results of the MRI.

    Eld, thanks. Commiserations are always welcome. I wish this was the only thing bugging me right now. 2020 ended with a bunch of aches and pains. I try not to whine, but that helps, too.

    Jewelisfabulous and Jewel KS, interesting to hear how your family members were helped. I guess if I could feel certain that surgery would solve the problem for good, I’d feel less trepidation. I really, really don’t want to have to sleep in a recliner. Sounds like one step away from the rocking chair!

    Raven, I’ve only recently heard of the laser treatment. I’ll ask my doctor about it. Thanks.

    Mdln, I’ll add those to my Amazon wish list. Thanks for pointing them out.

  • nekotish
    last month

    My DH overcame it without surgery. He had PT and a cortisone shot (maybe two?) For what it's worth, when we got a memory foam mattress, his shoulder pain went away pretty quickly. When I started having shoulder pain, I trained myself to sleep with my arm across my chest, rather than under my pillow. So far so good.


    dedtired thanked nekotish
  • Sueb20
    last month

    I’ve had both shoulders operated on in the past 15 years. The first was a “hook” that was impinging on the RC (I may be misremembering details since this was 15 years ago), which basically had to be cut off. The second (other shoulder) had some fraying on the RC and a small labrum tear. I’d say both recoveries were similar, with PT for a few months, and probably around a year before my shoulder felt “good.” However, in both cases I had lived with the pain for 1-2 years, and tried other things (PT, massage, Advil) before resorting to surgery.


    dedtired thanked Sueb20
  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
    last month

    I had issues years ago. A personal trainer (parent of a student) who was running classes after school for teachers gave me an exercise. I don't do this regularly anymore, but I haven't had an issue since (at the time, I could not even raise my arm to brush my hair. Forget pulling a shirt or sweater over my head). Sit on the edge of a chair and lean over with a weight in your hand so your arm hangs down between your legs. Rotate counterclockwise and then clockwise (or vice versa, whatever) for maybe 10-20 reps each arm. Use a light weigh-3-5 lbs. or even less. She said I could do it without a weight to start if I needed to do that.

    I am so sorry you are having trouble with your rotator cuff. No fun.

    dedtired thanked cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
  • HU-753479426
    last month

    I had a complete tear of my rotator cuff in my dominant right arm. It happened gradually. Had laparoscopic surgery approx. 3 years ago. Began PT 2 weeks post-op - twice/week for 4 months with daily home exercises. It was the most painful thing I've ever experienced and I needed long term opioid pain meds as well as an ice machine and a recliner to get through it. It was a long time before I was able to drive. The surgery was necessary, and worth it - my arm is now functional but I still have intermittent mild discomfort/pain in that shoulder.

    If my left side starts to make noises, I will just live with it because I would never go through that again for a non-dominant arm.

    seagrass

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  • msmeow
    last month

    I had RC damage for years, then an “acute event” in 2017 that caused a severe tear (doc said it was one of the worst he’d seen). I had surgery to repair and started PT a week later. Three X per week for five months (at 0 cost to me, thanks to my company’s fabulous health coverage!). The result is no pain and 100% range of motion. The only issue is the repaired shoulder is weaker.

    If I should ever need the other shoulder done, I would be more aggressive with the PT. The therapists know what they are doing and know when you are at your limit.

    Donna

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  • whatsayyou18
    last month

    Regarding physical therapists....my DIL is one and when I wasn't getting good results from PT recently she asked several questions. In the end, she didn't care for what she heard and recommended finding one who was board certified in manual therapy and certified in all phases of dry needling. It made all the difference.

    dedtired thanked whatsayyou18
  • Tina Marie
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I never thought I’d say it, but dry needling is amazing!! Have you had that? I was wondering if maybe you need a different therapist.

    dedtired thanked Tina Marie
  • Faron79
    last month

    Hooooo Boy!!!


    I've had both of my RC's done too! I'm 59 now. RH Shoulder done in April 2017, & Left RC in June 2019.


    (New L Knee in 2014....3 screws in Rt foot/arch Nov. 2017 too 🤪.....7 surgeries in 10 yrs overall)


    Yes.....I had PT before & after both shoulders too. I had to chuckle about the "Bathroom chores" as well!!! 🤭🤪😉 Brushing-teeth & TP-use....... practice a while BEFORE surgery with your "good" arm! Sleeping......Ugh! 😬🙄It sucked, no matter where I slept.


    Faron


    dedtired thanked Faron79
  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
    last month

    Ditto on the recirculating ice machine, what a pain reliever! Also, we already had an electric lift recliner that was used when my husband had his hip surgery; I do not know what I would have done without it.

    I had a very bad tear and probably should have had a replacement but the extent of the injury wasn't revealed until the surgeon got inside. I tried weeks of physio beforehand to no avail and was more than ready for surgery, frankly.

    I can't tolerate the heavy duty pain relievers at all so my recovery was a bit rough at times. But I am still very glad that I had the procedure as I am fully back to normal, though it took a long time.


    dedtired thanked rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
  • dedtired
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks all. Sounds like I have other options before I resort to surgery. PT, dry needing, acupuncture. I will have to wait to see what the doctor says but if he says surgery, I’ll have a list of other suggestions.


    As for the bathroom, I already had to master the art of using the other hand when I had carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand.


    on top on the rotator cuff, I’m on my third round of antibiotics for a stubborn UTI and I have to go to the endodontist for a sore tooth, then back to the dentist for a new crown. Lately I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. How many things can go wrong at once?? At least it’s all treatable and I look forward to feeling good again sooner or later . 2020has segued right into 2021!

  • maire_cate
    last month

    Sorry you're going through this dedtired. I honestly think having both knees replaced at the same time was easier than even one RC surgery. I've heard a wide range of opinions - just like the ones presented here - ranging from 'big mistake' to 'it really helped.'

    But if you do need surgery the polar ice machine is great. DS had a knee reconstruction 5 years ago and bought one and then used it again 2 years ago when he had RC surgery. Unfortunately he's going back in a few months for another operation on the same shoulder to remove scar tissue and correct another tear.

    I hope one of the alternatives gives you some relief.

    Maire

  • dedtired
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks, Maire. Sympathy helps a lot!

    Malfleur, I had a UTI many years ago, like 30 years ago, and was tested for guardian at that time. It was negative. My son got that when he was in New Zealand. He was pretty sick. I do have confidence in my doctor, so we’ll see.

  • Betty S.
    last month

    Also consider a washlet/bidet for your shoulder recover ;-)

    dedtired thanked Betty S.
  • lizbeth-gardener
    last month

    Sorry to hear of all your health issues. I've only had a brief issue with RC and mine resolved with PT. If you do have surgery I would second (or3-4th) getting an ice machine. I got the Polar Ice machine when I had a knee replaced and it was worth its weight in gold! Hope everything gets resolved in the least painful way and soon.

    dedtired thanked lizbeth-gardener
  • jewelisfabulous
    last month
    last modified: last month

    dedtired -- I strongly recommend you see a urologist and get an xray to see if you have kidney stones. A kidney stone can harbor and slowly release the bacteria that causes UTI's. I experienced this exact situation (three rounds of antibiotics just to get the UTI back within days). Once the stone was blasted in an outpatient procedure (lithotripsy), no more UTIs!

    dedtired thanked jewelisfabulous
  • Faron79
    last month

    My fave exercise after the RC surgeries was the "Door-pulley". A nylon strap with a pulley on it. Lay the strap over the top of the door and close it. Sitting in a chair facing door, pull down with good arm, to slowly pull surgery-arm up. This was such a good stretch.....getting that repaired shoulder to move thru a range, without activating the muscles yet.


    I was lucky with both shoulders to NOT need to be immobilized!! My R side was borderline, but I promised to be careful, & wear the sling a lot!!!! My first 3 weeks post-op were just the very passive slow-swinging circles in both directions, & front-to-back careful swinging. You have to use your whole upper-body to do the "Dead arm" swings. Normally, you're not supposed to use the shoulder muscles AT ALL.


    Faron

    dedtired thanked Faron79
  • sleeperblues
    last month

    I'm sorry about all of your problems, Ded. I hope you can find some relief. I tore my left RC, MRI showed it was an 85-99% tear. I know how painful shoulder surgery is, and that I would have to take many weeks off work, so I decided not to have surgery. It was extremely painful to do the exercises, but I persevered and it eventually healed on it's own but it took about a year. But today I have full range of motion and no pain. I'm so glad I didn't have the surgery. I hope you can find a solution for your shoulder pain, and hopefully without surgery.

    dedtired thanked sleeperblues
  • bragu_DSM 5
    last month

    just have the surgery ... I take it you have been thru PT and have exhausted other options?

    dedtired thanked bragu_DSM 5
  • mtnrdredux_gw
    last month

    My goodness, Dedtired, so sorry to hear you are going through a rough patch. Hope you feel better soon!

    dedtired thanked mtnrdredux_gw
  • ravencajun Zone 8b TX
    last month

    Foodonastump, I had a tear as a result of a car accident. I was at a dead stop at a red light and a truck with loaded trailer and full of men crashed into the back of my car. I was thrown pretty hard forward.

    dedtired thanked ravencajun Zone 8b TX
  • dedtired
    Original Author
    last month

    Life has been a little sucky lately but compared to what others have gone through, it’s not so bad. I go back to the urologist this morning to follow up on the UTI. What’s strange is that it’s hard for me to explain to him how I am feeling. It’s kind of vague. Much easier to explain a sore shoulder or aching tooth!


    I did attend a virtual workshop on PT to treat RC pain. I also went for a free evaluation with them. They seem very confident that it can be resolved with PT although they were looking for business, of course.


    One bright spot is that I am getting my money’s worth from my insurance companies. I am so grateful to have Medicare and excellent supplemental insurance.


    Raven, your accident sounds awful!


    Thanks all for your good advice. You have become my go-to for words of wisdom, vast experience and sympathetic ear.

  • maifleur03
    last month

    Dedtired UTIs with resultant kidney infections which it now sounds like you may have, if you can not describe the nebulous problems, if your doctor does not help you this time I would like to suggest that unless they are the only urologist that you find another. They should be used to patients feeling strange as that is common with UTIs and kidney infections.

    dedtired thanked maifleur03
  • Tina Marie
    last month

    Dead, hope you got some good news this morning. As per the PT for your shoulder, I firmly believe you need to shop around and find THE BEST physical therapist available. My problem was achilles tendon which caused problems with my heel. My doctor initially wanted to do surgery, which I was dead set against. She gave me a deadline of being of being a certain percent well (I don't remember how long/what percentage) with PT. She recommended the therapist. She will only recommend 2 therapists in the city. I asked around. I have a friend who is a PT. Got her thoughts. I swear, my therapist was a foot whisperer. LOL The way he could hold my foot and feel - WITH HIS EYES CLOSED - just where he wanted to insert the needles. He was absolutely wonderful. I will never, ever see another PT. Oh, and when I went to my follow up with the dr., I wasn't quite up to the percentage she wanted me to be in that time frame. But she had lengthy follow-up reports with my therapist, and agreed, it was working. That was about 3 years ago. Honestly, he is fabulous. So ask around.

    dedtired thanked Tina Marie
  • amicus
    last month

    I felt a growing pain from my right shoulder, 4 years ago. It was not from a sudden injury, but apparently more of a 'frayed' tear, caused by wear and tear, literally. My sister had rotator cuff repair surgery a year prior, and urged me to try physical therapy before opting for surgery. My doctor referred me to a physical therapist specializing in rotator cuff injuries. I did 3 weeks of formal therapy, then just took home the pamphlets they provided, and continued therapy on my own.

    I bought a stretchy bungee type strap and some light weights. At first it was pretty painful doing the exercises, but every week it became less so. Eventually I just did exercises, like the dangling arm rotation, without any accessories. About 3 months later I kind of let that fizzle out, as I no longer had any pain when using my arm.

    I've had no pain since then, but don't have full flexibility in my right arm, which I realize may have been recovered if I'd had surgery, or done the exercises for longer. However, the flexibility I lost does not affect anything I would need to do. With my 'good' arm, I can nestle my left elbow tight to my side, then move my forearm up my spine and reach the nape of my neck with my left hand, or lift my right arm over my shoulder and grab my left hand with my right one.

    But I can't nestle my right elbow right against my side, and can only inch my right arm to just above my bra clasp. I don't know if it's scar tissue or simply that my arm didn't heal fully from the exercises, to regain my former flexibility. Regardless, I have full flexibility in every other way with my right arm and shoulder, with no pain. So I'm satisfied with my choice to avoid surgery, as I don't do well with either anesthesia or painkillers.

  • jewels_ks
    last month

    Another thing about the polar pack. My dd has had two knee surgeries and my dh the rotator cuff surgery. They have used the polar pack for all three and helped tremendously but we have never bought one. We have either loaned it from the surgeon or loaned it from a medical store and then returned it when we were done. I didn't even know you could buy one.

  • pamghatten
    last month

    Good post as I am also dealing with this right now. I have a history of genetic ostearthritis and have already had a hip and knee replaced because of it. My right shoulder started hurting 6+ months ago, and I'm right handed.

    I went to my knee/hip orthopedic surgeon, he took xrays and said I have little to no cartilage left in my shoulder and a RC impingement. I had a "guided" shot of cortisone, that hurt tons .. but didn't help. And then started PT.

    I've been doing PT for 3-4 months now, and it helped .. I've also gone to see an orthopedic doctor who specializes in shoulders. He said I have some cartilage, so I'm not ready for a replacement yet. (YAY!) and I'm going back in March for an MRI to see what's going on with the RC.

    Even with PT, there are certain motions I can't do because they are very painful .. and sleeping can be a problem. I'll know more in March about the RC.

    Good luck, hope PT helps you too.

    dedtired thanked pamghatten
  • dedtired
    Original Author
    last month

    More great advice. Thanks. I feel pretty sure the orthopedist will recommend PT before surgery, unless the mri shows something awful.


    Went back to the urologist this morning. Have to go pee in a cup again next week. In the meantime I am supposed to see my Gyn to be sure nothing is going on there. He also mentioned the possibility of interstitial cystitis, which I have dealt with in the past and desperately hoped it had resolved itself. Anyway, I’m feeling not so bad today.


    So tomorrow I go to the hairdresser, who I refer to as the hair doctor, then Thursday to the endodontist. Slowly but surely I am putting myself back together!


    Again, many, many, MANY thanks.

  • H B
    last month

    Good luck! Everyone's situation is different. I tore my rotator cuff off; it hurt quite a bit at first....gradually over the course of a year it felt better. As it was about 15 years ago, I can't remember why, but ended up doing an MRI on it anyways. The explanation I received for surgery being necessary, was that with the cuff fully torn off, the longer I waited the less possible it would be to re-attach (the tendon or whatever it is, retracts down the arm, you'll lose use of your arm). The surgery was done laparascopically (I think 3-4 incisions). And they shaved off a bone spur (which is probably what poked/tore the cuff in the first place). I also did PT prior to the surgery; then had to wait 10-12 weeks before starting PT after. Yes PT can be tough.

    The recliner is so that you can be comfortable sleeping. If you can afford it, get regular massages. The rest of your body contorts to accommodate when wearing the brace and healing, and it is SO nice to get "straightened out." The large exercise/elastic bands are great and can be used in the shower as a makeshift sling to support the arm. There are things such as a hairdryer stand. Using the stand mixer helps with cooking.

    dedtired thanked H B
  • palisades_
    last month

    When I had a torn in my RC last year, it took over 4 months to heal, fortunately without surgery. The pain would wake me up at night or early morning so my sleep quality was poor. When I started shoulder stretching exercises with elastic bands, and took turmeric powder, things turned around. I have regained full mobility of my arm and shoulder and no more pain! I still use stretching band for my shoulder exercise weekly. They’re great workout equipment.

    dedtired thanked palisades_
  • OutsidePlaying
    last month

    Good luck to you. DH had a lot of pain a couple of years ago, with both his right hip and shoulder. Turns out he had severe deterioration of the joints due to arthritis. He had hip replacement first then a few months later had shoulder replacement. There was no rotator cuff injury or issues, but to get the shoulder replaced, the surgeon must cut through good rotator cuff tendon to accomplish the surgery. DH said the end result was well worth the initial week of mild pain from surgery to be rid of the shoulder pain he had pre-surgery. He was instructed to do no lifting above 5 lbs for 6 weeks was fairly immobile with that arm for a couple of weeks, but he was able to drive himself to PT after a couple of weeks.

    dedtired thanked OutsidePlaying
  • jojoco
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I am so sorry you’re going through this. No words of wisdom from me, but if you ever want to escape to Longwood for a morning or afternoon, just let me know. It would be great to see you again.

  • dedtired
    Original Author
    last month

    Jo, that is such a nice invitation. Once I get myself together, I’d love to meet up again. Thank you.

  • joyfulguy
    last month

    Tough to hear of your multiple issues.

    Also interesting that someone found that blasting kidney stones cleared up the UTI problem in that experience.

    Sending good thoughts and sure hope you have major improvements soon.

    ole joyful

    dedtired thanked joyfulguy
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