What’s natural and what’s tried and tested...
What it is if raising your arm above or behind your head triggers a stabbing or shocklike pain in your shoulder area, you could have rotator cuff tendinitis. "The pain worsens with activity and could even wake you from sleep," says William Levine, MD, director of the sports medicine department of orthopedic surgery at Columbia University Medical Center. Though younger adults can develop it, it's estimated that more than half of people over age 65 will have rotator cuff pain.
Why it happens Lifting your arms over your head—when painting walls, for example, or playing tennis—puts you at risk. Sleeping with your arm over your head and carrying heavy bags on your shoulder can also cause rotator cuff problems. Mild cases can improve within weeks, but it may take months for people with severe pain to feel better. "Don't lift your arm repeatedly until things settle down," advises orthopedist Eric Ricchetti, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic.
How we treat Rotator Cuff Pain
Heat increases blood flow to tissue, easing inflammation and speeding healing. It also improves flexibility and relaxes muscle spasms so it's easier to do the exercises that improve your shoulder's range of motion and strength. "Ultrasound warms up tissue pretty deeply and quickly," says Calabrese. Your therapist might also apply a moist heating pad to your shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes before exercise; you can do this at home as well.
In one study, 52 athletes with rotator cuff pain got biweekly acupuncture treatments for 4 weeks, which slashed their pain by 50%. "Qi [energy] or blood flow blockages cause pain," says David Kato, the owner of Lincoln Square Acupuncture in Chicago. "Acupuncture can free these blockages and improve your circulation so that inflammation and pain lessen (in addition to these other science-backed benefits)."
Rotator cuff tendinitis causes shoulder stiffness, so improving range of motion with stretches that target the shoulder muscles is crucial. Calabrese has patients perform 50 daily reps of exercises, including the pendulum, in which you bend over and let your affected arm dangle as you make circles with it. He also recommends the wall slide: Run the hand on your injured side up and down a wall as though you're washing the wall.
We provide an all in one bodywork to relieve aches and pains.
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