Rotator cuff injury advice

Posted , 4 users are following.


So back in July I woke one more to what felt like a pulled muscle in my upper arm. I put it down to maybe sleeping funny and assumed it would get better in time. Anyway it didn’t, the pain gradually got worse I couldn’t lift my arm above my head, so things like washing and brushing my hair became difficult. It did ease off after a week or two but it still hurt to raise my arm. The pain then started to affect my shoulder and after a few uncomfortable nights sleep  with my daughter ( led on my bad arm asleep ) she was unwell. The pain felt like it was now affecting the neck and back of my ear. 

I went to the doctors finally who prescribed me naproxen. However after taking two single tablets they completely ruined my stomach lining so I had to stop. I have had a steroid injection around 4 weeks ago which did ease the pain in my shoulder and neck slightly. However where the pain originated ( upper arm ) has seemed to have stayed and is starting to get worse again. I have paid to see a physio twice who has done some light massage and ultrasound therapy on my arm but I just simply can’t afford to keep paying too see her. 

Has anyone ever had this before? I can’t take any anti-inflammatory medication for this due to another medication I am now taking and really don’t want this to get worse. What should I do? I have an appointment on 30th to see the doctor who has been dealing with this. But it’s such a lengthy process and the longer this goes on the worse it gets. 

Any advice appreciated. 

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17 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Sarah

    This sounds exactly like my own experience except I was able to continue with the Naproxen with the addition of Omeprazole to protect my stomach lining.  I was getting nowhere with the GP and had to be very firm to get a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon.  He immediately diagnosed the problem and I am now 12 weeks post op. I don't think there is any quick fix and the recovery is slow but you will get there once someone has got to the root of your problem.  Good luck!

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    • Posted

      Hi Ruth 

      They didn’t prescribed the omeprazole with the naproxen which in hindsight they should have. Unfortunately for me now as well is all this trauma from continuous pain plus added stomach gastritis, it triggered severe anxiety which I’ve never had before. It made me so ill I lost over a stone in 3 weeks so have now started a course of citalopram which means I can’t take any anti inflammatory medication. I do still have a fair amount of motion in my arm, but I can’t sleep on my bad arm, also my natural way of sleeping is on my stomach with said arm raised up and underneath the pillow ( if you get what I mean ) I have been trying to stop sleeping this way but sometimes I do it without realising and then the next morning my arm is sore. 

      Why did you have to have surgery? How are you feeling now? 

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    • Posted

      I had a full thickness tear of the supraspinatus, bone spur and bursitis.  Recovery has been very slow and painful but with the help of physio and hydrotherapy I am finally getting there.
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  • Posted

    Oh boy.  Have you had an MRI of the shoulder?  Do you have a reclining chair in your home?  If yes, try sleeping in the chair while you sort out the shoulder/arm issues.  Also, try stacking pillows on your bed to create a wedge or cradle to support your shoulder/upper arm.  Are you packing/wrapping the shoulder/upper arm in ice a few times a day?  Naproxen is horrible for your stomach.  Have you tried plain old Ibuprofen in lieu of Naproxen?  What about Tylenol?  Ice is a wonderful pain and inflammation manager...please try icing if you are not icing the problem area(s).  Good luck!
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    • Posted

      No I haven’t had a MRI. I have just been examined by my GP. I can take paracetamol but I can’t take ibruprophen either because it’s an anti inflammatory and will affect my other medication. Paracetamol doesn’t really help to be honest. 

      I work with young children so I do still have to use my arm regularly, whether it be changing them, carrying them or helping them dress etc. I also have two of my own children that still need lots of care so I sometimes can’t help but use my arm. 

      My physio has suggested I use heat as opposed to ice? Seems like a complete contrast to what you are suggesting. I hope mine doesn’t need surgery, but at the moment I can’t understand how it can still be causeing me such pain 4 months later. 

      I will ask to referred to physio and maybe for another steroid injection. But I think an X-ray of some sort may be needed before they continue treatment just in case it’s worse than they think.  

      Thank you both for your responses. 

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    • Posted

      I used cold/ice for 8 months - 2 surgeries to repair my shoulder after tearing three of the r cuff muscle tendons - two ripped completely off the ball of the shoulder joint.  I never used heat.  Anyhow...  If you are lifting children, dressing, changing etc I'd lean towards cold to reduce inflammation from the activity and the help alleviate pain/discomfort.

      I found this online.  Maybe it will help you...California Orthopedic Institute

      Should You Ice or Heat an injury?

      Ice packs and heating pads are among the most commonly used treatments in orthopedics. So which one is the right one to use for your injury, ice or heat? And how long should the ice or heat treatments last? Read on for information about the treatment of injuries with ice packs and heating pads.

      Ice Treatment

      Ice treatment is most commonly used for acute injuries. If you have had a recent injury (within the last 48 hours) where swelling is a problem, you should be using ice. Ice packs can help minimize swelling around the injury, reduce bleeding into the tissues, and reduce muscle spasm and pain.

      Ice packs are often used after injuries like ankle sprains have occurred. Applying an ice pack early and often for the first 48 hours will help minimize swelling, and decreasing swelling around an injury will help to control the pain. Ice treatments may also be used for chronic conditions, such as overuse injuries in athletes. In this case, ice the injured area after activity to help control inflammation. Never ice a chronic injury before activity.

      You can make ice packs with ice cubes in a plastic bag or wet tea towel; a pack of frozen peas is also ideal and can go in and out of the freezer. Never place ice directly on an injury; keep the pack moving to avoid ice burns. Never treat with ice for more than 30 minutes, and remove the pack immediately if the injury appears bright pink or red.

      Don’t use ice packs on the left shoulder if you have a heart condition, and don’t use ice packs around the front or side of the neck.

      Heat Treatment

      Heat treatments should be used for chronic conditions to help relax and loosen tissues and to stimulate blood flow to the area. Use heat treatments for conditions such as overuse injuries before participating in activities.

      Do not use heat treatments after activity, and do not use heat after an acute injury. Never use heat where swelling is involved because swelling is caused by bleeding in the tissue, and heat just draws more blood to the area.

      Heating tissues can be accomplished using a heating pad, or even a hot, wet towel. When using heat treatments, be very careful to use a moderate heat for a limited time to avoid burns. Never leave heating pads or towels on for extended periods of time or while sleeping.

      Other Precautions

      Don’t use cold or heat packs:

      • over areas of skin that are in poor condition

      • over areas of skin with poor sensation to heat or cold

      • over areas of the body with known poor circulation

      • if you have diabetes

      • in the presence of infection

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    • Posted

      Thank you very much. I’m going to try icing my shoulder a few times a day to see if it helps. I have found that hot baths in the evening helps to, so maybe I should try I’ve throughout the day and then when I can relax in the bath. 

      I’m going to keep calling my doctors to see if I can bring my appointment forward with my gp. If not I will continue to take paracetamol when needed and try not to do anything to strenuous. My work are very understanding but I don’t want to feel like I’m not fully able like the rest of my colleagues. 

      Thanks again. 

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  • Posted

    Ice and anti inflamation cream is a must, and gentle physio. try hot and cold also.
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    • Posted

      Thank you mike. 

      Can you recommend a anti inflammatory cream which doesn’t contain ibruprophen? I’m not to sure whether I can use it if anti inflammatory medication is forbidden whilst taking citalopram. But if it’s used externally it might be ok? 

      I will try and push for further testing. Thank you. 

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  • Posted

    Sarah, insist on an Arthroscan or mri to properly define the problem.
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    • Posted

      Ok so just a update. Since this post I have had a standard X ray which showed no problem. However I kinda knew this would be the case as I know it’s not a bone issue. I’m still experiencing pain most of the time, but more so when I try to sleep. I’d say the pain is only a 3/10 but it’s still pretty annoying. I have finally been referred to physio and have an MRI scheduled ( finally) for tomorrow 23rd December. 

      Thank you all for your advice, it still took a while but at least I’m going to hopefully get to the bottom of this now. 

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  • Posted

    Sarah. any local, external anti-inflamatory cream is fine; just don't take anything internally. I am on a high dose of Warfarin (Anti-coagulants) because of mechanical heart valves. Good luck and insist on a scan!

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  • Posted

    Hi Sarah,

    It sounds like you have EXACTLY what I have...."Frozen Shoulder" aka adhesive capsulitis.

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