Possible rotator cuff tear?

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Last year in november I took a hit to my shoulder and felt an immediate dead arm. I played with it for two weeks until I basically couldn't use my arm anymore because of the pain in my shoulder. The doctor diagnosed me with a subluxation and had me do PT. After a month or so of PT I gradually got back into weight lifting. On the second day of padded american football practice the next season, my shoulder returned to the same form. The doctor told me I have an impingement but we did not do an MRI because that would hurt my chances of getting into the military. I am trying to do PT and get it back to full strength but it doesn't seem to be working. The pain I have is in the outer portion of my shoulder and sometimes down a little ways into my bicep. When I move my outstretched arm inward, outward or up I feel sharp pain. When I don't move the shoulder there is a usually a constant ache type pain. When I move my arm there is also a cracking noise in my shoulder. There is weakness in my shoulder but not weakness that makes your arm drop in a drop arm test for the rotator cuff. The pain is much worse than when I first injured it and the Physical Therapist said it is weaker than it was last year. Is it possible i have a rotator cuff tear? 

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  • Posted

    That could be a rotator cuff tear, that is gradually worsening. It could also be a labrum tear, which I think it is in your case.

    How is your scapula alignment and upward rotation of the scapula? How is your external and internal rotation strength?

    Do you have also a weakness performing a side lying shoulder raise?

    I'm not a professional here!

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your insight, when I raise my arm from rest to eye level and above my head there is limited motion and pain on the front/side of the shoulder. There is severe pain when doing a side lying shoulder raise with no weight, and I have weakness in both external and internal rotation. Thanks for your reply! 
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    • Posted

      Okay, how do you define the weakness in external and internal rotation? You can't increase the weight in the rotation exercises or what?

      Furthermore does your PT adresses your scapula alignment and stability?

      It looks like you have a scapula imbalance and that's giving an unstable base to the shoulder joint, making it unstable, too.

      I would suggest, that you do handstand holds and shrug your shoulder as high as you can in the handstand (work up to the one armed version). Also do some serratus push ups, YTWL exercises and rotation exercises with bands.

      Also stretch the shoulder extension, internal and external rotation, shoulder flexion and do wall slides.

      If any of these exercises cause pain, then stop them and try a different shoulder position. If every position is hurting (or/and it's not going away, even with rest for say up to a month), then go see a shoulder specialist (who worked with athletes) and get an MRI, because it most likely could be something serious.

      I made great progress, improving scapula upward rotation and am getting slowly to 100%. Again, I'm not a specialist and it's not bad to see a doctor/specialist for that problem.

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    • Posted

      One thing I forgot to mention is that you better stay away from pull ups and bench presses for now.

      Again the feeling of a dead arm and shoulder subluxation is an indication of a labrum or SLAP tear (if PT or generally nothing work for that, surgery is the only way to get close to 100%).

      You can abduct (raise) your arm when you're lying on your side, right?

      With a Supraspinatus tear that wouldn't be possible or at difficult.

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