Ask Beth: How can I avoid surgery on a torn rotator cuff?

QUESTION: How can I avoid surgery on a torn rotator cuff?


I have been having a terrible time with my shoulder lately.  Three years ago I partially tore my rotator cuff and impinged it surfing with webbed paddling gloves. I did phsical therapy and it got better, but it still troubled me sometimes.  Lately, it sort of locks up on me and causes tremendous pain when I am doing some random movement, like lifting my arm up or putting on a shirt. It will then hurt considerably for a while, and limit my range of motion and my activities (can’t surf!). I’ve been practicing yoga for a little while now, and there are times when my shoulder will lock up in various postures (not  weight-bearing postures). This is really getting me down—I want to avoid surgery, but it just gets worse and worse. I’ve also developed a sore neck on that side and wonder if it could be related. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction.

Hey Gareth,

Sounds to me like you need to revisit your doctor and get a new diagnosis. If it isn’t getting better on its own and it is totally getting in the way of the things you love to do (not to mention things you have to do!) then go get some help! It is great that you started yoga; however, sometimes these kinds of injuries need complete rest prior to starting any kind of exercise. Some basic stretches surrounding the area are probably doable, but I would first go to a doc and then a physical therapist to get these particular stretches/exercises.

I am sorry this is flaring up again. Time to take care of the pain over the summer, before the fall spectacular really gets under way! Hopefully, that shoulder only needs a wee bit of TLC!

Let me know what the doctor says.



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