Question - Rotator Cuff (decreased pain before surgery)

Sounds like by the time you get this, I would have already had my surgery, but I would still like to know the answer. I'm a massage therapist and have been for 21 yrs. I have also been an avid weightlifter for 24 yrs. along with swimming between all this for about 16yrs. I'm 41 yrs. old now.

I remember having shoulder pain and pain going down my arm for about 2-3 yrs. now. Notthing set off my problem....just years of abuse. I finally went to an orthopedist 2 weeks ago. He gave me a x-ray and it showed I had a hooked acromion.

Oh, i guess I should mention, it got to the point I could not do my full workout in the gym. My right arm was sooo much weaker anytime I tried to go heavy. I got a sharp pain down my arm to where i couldn't even bring dumbells up to do flat chest press or shoulder dumbell presses. I also had all the signs you mentioned .....could't lift my arm to comb my hair, wakes me up when I sleep...can't throw normally etc.

Anyway, I got a M.R.I and it did show what my guy said was a partial tear "at least" I had alot of fluid in there and major impingement. He said he won't know how bad the tear is until he gets in there. I have quit lifting and have noticed my pain in my arm and range of motion ( lifting my arm out to the side, up over my head) is actually better and the pain is hardly even there.
I'm still doing massages...that doesn't seem to affect it too much.

My question is... I know the M.R.I showed a tear (tears) my hooked acromion...why is my pain gone that I had 1 week and a half ago...extreme pain raising my arm...getting dressed you know, putting a shirt over my head ect. Could you have tears and not have the pain???? I'm not taking any ibuprofen pills of any kind . Especailly now.

I'm having surgery Sept. 30th. How can it be that I have all this stuff with my shoulder and the pain is getting better?? my left arm is actually more painful than my right arm now. I don't have the hooked acromion in that shoulder. I haven't gotten an M.R.I on that one yet.

It does have severe impingement issues. They are going to try to fix my left one with p.t.

Sorry, I got off track....... As i'm typing this I'm moving my right arm every which way and I have little or no pain.... like I said before, I know the M.R.I. showed Doc. showed me. I'm just 2nd guessing the surgery because I have less pain.

I did go do a small shoulder workout with weights just to test it..if I put resistance on it... It did produce shooting pains down my arm. Maybe my tear only shows up when I put resistance on it and just "free" moving it with body weight doesn't effect it anymore????? I know it used to....bad. It doesn't make sense to me.

Like I said earlier, By the time you get this I would have already had my surgery, I just wanted to see if you could explain it. I had one friend said that even if I had full tears many of them because there are so many tendons that support the rotator cuff I could still get by with hardly any pain because the other tendons make up for it??? is this true?????

thanks for you time!!!!!!!

Tina Tilghman

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Sep 28, 2008
decreased pain
by: Bart - SII

These are all very good questions - lets start with whether or not you can have tears in the rotator cuff and not have pain.

This is definitely a possibility. The way the shoulder works, there are numerous things that contribute to shoulder stability. A small tear in one of the rotator cuff tendons can be overcome if you have good shoulder function and stability. The problem is that most people do not, which is what leads to insidious tears in the first place.

I think your pain has decreased because you have stopped your lifting activities. Weight lifting places a good deal of stress on the shoulder, and many times it asks the body to move in ways that are not natural - single plane motions rather than multi-plane motions like we use with every day life. Adding resistance increases the stress, which will aggravate your shoulder.

Did you do any type of physical therapy for your shoulder pain? Any exercises to work on improving your shoulder function? I am guessing with your time frame that you did not.

The surgery to repair the rotator cuff and to decompress the shoulder (flatten the acromion and remove inflammation) should be beneficial to you. The key will be to make sure that you go through a very good strengthening program after surgery to regain good shoulder function.

Without the surgery, you would likely have a recurrence of your pain once your went back to weight lifting - and that would just continue to get worse.

Hope this helps, and is in time!


Apr 28, 2009

by: Anonymous

I had surgery on my rotator cuff, full tear with impingement on my right shoulder last Aug. 2008 and now I have a tear in my left shoulder small full thickness at the insertion on the greater tuberosity. I did not do any thing to my left shoulder for this to have happened. Any one know why this is?

Oct 10, 2009
Bi lateral roator cuffs
by: Jim

Hi. I had surgery on my right shouldder in March this year and am gradually getting a better range of movement back, with the help of physiotherapy. The problem is, my left shoulder area seems to be giving me the exact pain as I had in the right shoulder prior to surgery.
Has anyone had both rotator cuffs damaged?

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