Rotator cuff / shoulder pain : Hi, I’m new to... - Pain Concern

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Rotator cuff / shoulder pain


Hi, I’m new to the group. I have a rotator cuff tear / injury and pain in my shoulder area. Last year my GP gave me a steroid injection for the pain and to help it heal, which didn’t work. I’m aware they’re hit or miss, and so am wanting to avoid another inj which doesn’t work.

I’m on long term painkillers (neuropathic pain), which aren’t & won’t touch the level of pain. Has anyone any advice / help to manage it please?

Thank you

22 Replies

A GP, osteopath or physio can show you how to develop a range of motion of your arm without pain and then how to build up strength using resistance exercises. Good luck!

Go to orthopaedic doctor for injection he should hit GP is not trained but take Xray with you out of pocket $170

My gp is trained to do steroid injections, he did the last one. The policy here is max 3 per site in your entire lifetime, hence I want to try alternative ways of dealing with it. (Costs are n/a as it’s nhs)

I feel for you because I have an impingement in my shoulder and the pain consultant thinks I also have osteoarthritis in the facet joints. Guided injections work better than the ones that are just put anywhere in the affected area but the relief usually only lasts for a short time.

Bagpuss21 in reply to 041051

That’s been the problem - the effect lasted only 2 days!

Poor you... it's painful. I had that a couple of years ago.

Like you I have osteoarthritis, but it wasn't that which caused the damage..I didn't have any injections. My Gp just gave me some anti inflammatories to take and advised hot/ cold packs and to rest it....... intially it helped a bit but I was still in pain and couldn't move my arm much certain had to devise ways of getting dressed etc .

My GP eventually sent me to physio, which I had for a few months and continued to do the exercises at home..

It took about 8-9 months before it really started to return back to almost normal, although I still don't have a full range of flexibility and movement as I have in the other shoulder/arm.

Basically it's a tear which needs to heal and that takes time.. I don't think there is any quick fix., but physio certainly did help. Sorry, I can't be of more help.

Bagpuss21 in reply to saj01

You’ve been a Lot of help! I’m unable to take anti inflammatory meds for long as it interacts with my other meds; even so, they’ve barely touched the pain. Heat has worked though , but cold enhances pain. I’m wondering if physio will accept a referral because (here) they will only deal with musculoskeletal pain.

saj01 in reply to Bagpuss21

Hi Thanks for your reply... As far as I know that comes under the musculoskeletal for physio. I see your Gp has diagnosed neuropathy... is that a condition you have generally?

Ideally, an mri scan would show if the muscle is torn, and as you can't take other medication then a cortisone injection would help for a few months. In between time continue with the heat pads and try using a sling to immobilise your arm as even a movement in your wrist transmits to the shoulder,. Have the sling as high or low as is required to minimise pain, making sure you tuck your elbow into your waist

You might want to try a lidocaine cream or something similar to numb the area, perhaps your gp could prescribe it as there are different strengths, the stronger the better in your case.. From memory I couldn't lay down to sleep either, so propped myself up with pillows. It was a miserable time, plus I live on my own so had to go on with life regardless, not easy, but not impossible..

. just as a matter of interest, do you recall what might have brought it on? Something like over reaching, lifting/pulling something heavy etc... mine was using a long reach lopper cutting branches, pulling the cord !!. Hey ho.

Bagpuss21 in reply to saj01

As to the cause, it’s probably repeatedly putting mums wheelchair into & out of the car boot. It’s a lightweight w/chair but even the lightweight ones aren’t too light!

Neuropathy is definitely diagnosed by my GP, & is related to long term diabetes. It affects my feet & ankles, chronic severe pain. Nerve damage is long term consequence of diabetes. I’ve been using heat to try easing the pain; topical painkilling gel (diclofenac) doesn’t help either.

Im currently having shoulder pain issues and my doctor mentioned rotor cuff .... can you please describe what your issue is like?

Bagpuss21 in reply to Batty1

Shoulder area is excruciatingly painful and no painkiller works on it (even co-codamol 30/500 4 times a day!). Movement is limited. Pain level causes a lot of nausea and has made my mood drop, I’m apathetic. No position I put myself in is comfortable. And I can’t sleep. It’s horrendous!

Batty1 in reply to Bagpuss21

Oh my Im sorry about all your pains, I can sorta relate. I somehow (unknown to me) hurt my arm about 3 weeks ago and can’t push myself out of a low chair or pull up pants or hold my arm up over my head without exhaustion in the muscles and forget about opening anything... nightmare! My doctor who I will see on Friday says maybe a rotor cuff injury after your explanation I don’t have your same issues ... Im wondering if I torn a bicep muscle because it kind of hurts in that area, who knows pain in one area doesn’t necessarily mean thats the injury spot.

I can’t lift my arm out to the side either but I can lift it in front of me and over my head ... although this hurts at least I can do that still!

Bagpuss21 in reply to Batty1

There are loads of muscles in your shoulder area so just describe what’s up to the gp

I've had 2 rotator cuff surgeries n since 2014' I'm living with another tear.This one my doc n I decided wouldnt be worth trying to fix.The best thing i did after that decision, was get an amazing Chinese medicine/acupuncturist n found a excellent chiropractor n medical marijuana also.Wish I did that before my 2 previous surgeries.

U will never be the same as u were before but u can make it alot better with what u have.

Bagpuss21 in reply to hippolove1

As I’ve got loads of medical needs I have to be so careful what I use for the pain.

hippolove1 in reply to Bagpuss21

Corn bags r really helpful also whether hot or cold.

I have a similar issue to you, Bagpuss21. Long-term pain problems due to a serious shoulder injury. In addition to the above advice, I suggest doing a Pain Management Programme. Many N.H.S. Trusts organise these. With the current situation books such as "Manage Your Pain" by Nicholas, Molloy, Tonkin and Beeston are helpful. Pacing yourself out and planning things step by step can be useful. Personally, I would recommend continuing with physiotherapy as well to help strengthen the shoulder and keep yourself fit. Good luck!

I’ve asked to attend a pain management course and my GPs kindly referred me, only for it to be rejected because they’d changed their criteria- they deal with musculoskeletal pain and because he’d mentioned neuropathy on the form, they refused me access. I’ll have a look at the book though, thanks

Had the same. Steroid injection on 5th Aug didn't work but pain has gradually reduced with a regime of Paracetemol 4 times a day. New GP gave me a new injection on Monday just past. With that cuff tear, both shoulders were not useable due to pain and I'm a wheelchair user! The gradual improvement is a boon and I can use both arms now. I also take medication for lumbar stenosis pain (Pregabalin). Take hope. With care, the tear will heal in time.

Hi.. had a feeling you were going to say diabetes...

I've read there are patches with lidocaine & tetracaine which is okay for shoulder impingement treatment, but whether it's any good for rotor cuff, or for you, I really don't know. Might be worth asking your Gp about them?

I really don't know what else to suggest for you, only to immobilise it and rest it as much as possible until you can get an injection, then physio when it's started to heal a bit..

Take care. x

Bagpuss21 in reply to saj01

Hi saj01. I’ve already got opiate patches; my GP told me last week I can top up with cocodamol. I was surprised because the Pt leaflet says not to take other opiates too, but he says occasional doses are ok.

I’ve tried voltarol gel on my shoulder and it’s done nothing to help it, which is annoying!

Hi.. Voltarol has never helped me either. I was prescribed cocodamol but they made me feel awful!Being a lightweight, strong medication just wipes me out. But I hope the shoulder has settled down a bit over the last couple of weeks.

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