After almost a year of chronic pain and a misdiagnosis of Arthritis (can't figure that one out), I finally have a diagnosis, but I don't really understand what it is or what to do about it. Please explain IN LAYMAN'S TERMS, what Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy is and how it is treated. I felt a pull in my upper arm awhile back, as I was shrugging on a coat that was too tight. The pain was annoying, but not serious, so I ignored it. A few months later I slipped on ice, and grabbed a railing to beak my fall, with the same arm. Then the pain got serious. It hurts when my arm is bent, and I try to raise it laterally, (like a wing), or pull back (like shrugging on a shirt or a coat. Also when I try to reach back to unhook my bra or scratch my back it's incredibly painful. Once I stop that activity, the pain subsides. It's also a problem if I lay on the affected side. My arm aches and goes numb. If I lay on the other side and drape my affected arm over my body, it does the same thing. One doctor diagnosed it as Arthritis, despite the fact that the pain was obviously muscule and not joint related.
The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons, the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and supscapularis, that rotate the shoulder. They originate on the scapula and attach to the head of the humerus forming a cuff. Tendinopathy refers to degenerative changes within the tendons. This ranges from inflammation to microscopic tearing and resulting scar tissue. In some patients this can progress to partial thickness or full thickness tearing tears in the rotator cuff tendons. This is frequently referred to rotator cuff syndrome, or more commonly "impingement syndrome" which derives its name from the theory that the pathology arises from impingemnt of the involved structures between the humeral head and the acromion (the flat bone on the top of the shoulder). Basically, this is a combination of tendonitis, and bursitis, inflammation of the bursa that surrounds the tendons.
Your story is classic for rotator cuff syndrome. I often see patients with early rotator cuff propblems that are acutely aggravated after the patient were grabbing to steady themselves after a fall. Early treatment usually includes oral NSAID's, injected steroids, and physical therapy. If this is unsuccessful there are surgical alternatives that are performed arthroscopically and are very effective
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