Rotator Cuff complication? : Hello and Happy Easter... - PMRGCAuk


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Rotator Cuff complication?


Hello and Happy Easter to you all. I'm once again in need of advice, if anyone has any ideas/knowledge. Some years ago I had a rotator cuff injury which eventually healed and caused no further problems, but I suspect it's now rearing its head again. I've been on 11.5mg pred for over 2 weeks now, just waiting for the right time to reduce again, but for the last few days I've had a painful left shoulder which I thought at first was a sign the pmr would not tolerate any further reduction. But, as the other shoulder seems fine, I'm wondering if it's the pmr at all. If both shoulders felt like my right one, I wouldn't hesitate to drop my dose.

My question is, would it be a good or a bad idea to use a tens machine? This helped last time I had the rotator cuff problem (along with physio and ultimately a single steroid shot), but I suspect it might adversely affect the pmr - am I wrong? My thinking is that inflammation really doesn't need a kick in the same way that weakened/lazy muscles sometimes do. Do any of you have any thoughts on this please?

5 Replies

Can't see why it would affect the PMR - "TENS machines deliver small electrical pulses to the body via electrodes placed on the skin. TENS machines are thought to affect the way pain signals are sent to the brain." i.e. they change the way the body perceives the pain. The inflammation is nothing to do with the nerves.

Rotator cuff injury and PMR are often confused because of the similar symptoms though PMR is typically bilateral. However, pred doesn't always do tendons/ligaments much good and that may be contributing - PMR typically also affects your weak spots!

I'd try it - if it doesn't help the first time or makes anything worse, don't do it again! Someone on one of the forums recently said they'd tried it and it had helped.

DorsetLadyPMRGCAuk volunteer


Shoulder could also be arthritis as well. When my arthritic shoulder was diagnosed after I'd already been diagnosed with GCA, Rheumy did also mutter something about Rotator Cuff injury - they sometimes seem to go hand in hand.

Just another complication to add into the mix!

Thanks to you both for your replies. I feel very lucky that I found this forum - it's so good to be able to check things out!

I've given the tens a go at low setting and it seems to have helped and certainly hasn't hindered, so I'll give myself a blast daily. With luck, in another day or so, I can continue on the slow downward route with the pred.

Isn't it fun how pmr opens up a whole world of associated experiences to keep us on our toes!

Good morning. I too have a rotator cuff injury but I was told at the time that it wouldn't heal unless I had surgery. At the time my pmr was troublesome and I had other add ons of old age. My left shoulder is painful from time to time and the function weak after two years. Your Tens machine is worth a try and it certainly won't do any harm. Unfortunately I can't use Tens as I have a heart pacemaker. I thought I was superwoman when on 20mg pred and went out and scrubbed all the patio paving slabs. Hence the RCT! Good luck with the Tens.

All good wishes.


Patience_1 in reply to polymy

Thanks Liz, that's bad luck for you that you can't use Tens. My injury was long before I developed pmr, and it was never suggested that I neededTsurgery so it probably wasn't as bad as yours has been/is.

I've now given myself two bouts of Tens treatment, and it has eased the shoulder slightly. At the same time, there's no adverse effect on the other shoulder so I take it it's not affecting the pmr at all - yippee! Means I can continue downwards with pred. I'll have to add in some strengthening exercises for the rotator cuff. It's all go!

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