Reader Question: Rotator Cuff Options?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

James writes: I was listening to Bill Meyer’s radio show today and heard about your torn rotator cuff problem.

A few years ago I had the same problem. I didn’t want to go to the doctor, even though am on Medicare and the bill wouldn’t have been to high for me. I just don’t like going to the doctor. Anyhow I came across a little book on Amazon titled “Treat your own Rotator Cuff” or something like that, by Jim Johnson. It is kind of spendy, but I was desperate for relief. Let me tell you I was amazed at what the simple stretching and strengthening exercises in this book did for me. And I only did the exercises for a couple of weeks. He has a new title that evidently contains all the same info as the original book. Read some of the reviews on Amazon and see what you think. Plus it’s about $10 cheaper! BTW, I really enjoy your interviews with Bill every week. I have the same feelings about electric vehicles as you do.

My reply: I know this isn’t a question – but the subject is perhaps of interest to people, so I decided to post your comment and my reply!

I’ve actually been doing stretches for several months now and have seen incremental improvement but the shoulder still keeps me up for half the night and I am perpetually sleep-short now. I gather this happens in middle age! The mystery – to me – is what ails me. I don’t think it can be a full tear because I can still use my left arm – even lift weights (though not as heavy as I used to lift). The range of motion is much less than my right (normal) arm but I am basically functional. I can even do push-ups!

But when I lie down, I get a dull ache almost immediately that will not go away. It’s not severe pain – just enough pain to keep me from getting sleep.

For awhile, it kept me up all night. Lately, it keeps me up for most of the night. I credit the improvement to several stretches, including one I’ve been doing every day that entails standing against a wall and rotating your shoulders back to touch the wall – sentry guard posture, basically – hold it a few, then release. This feels really good and – apparently – corrects for poor posture/rounded shoulders (and misalignment) caused by sitting hunched over a keyboard for hours each day!

Thanks for the kind words…

. . .

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  1. Melatonin and ibuprofin before bed time. Also, the chiropractor may find a pinched nerve in your neck that’s causing the issue. And, you might need a new mattress. I had some back issues when sleeping, at home, that didn’t show themselves when I was in a hotel. Got a new mattress for home and, guess what…consider all possibilities.

    I had a shoulder problem that took nearly a year to clear itself up.

    • Mark, I just decided a couple days ago I’d be better off with a new mattress. I have the head 3.5″ higher than the foot and that helps. I take CBD oil and almost always an ibuprofen at bed time. When it’s bad I use tizanidine, a muscle relaxer that relaxes me and helps me sleep. I’ve been working all day and my neck is stiff as hell from a truck wreck 6 years ago. It’s not getting better, just worse. I would have surgery only as a last resort.

      Too much stuff roaming around in hospitals and I’d add to it with MRSA and Shingles. I’m afraid the wound might never heal with that double whammy waiting for a place to attack.

  2. I’d encourage you to pick up something very heavy and only use your hand muscles and try to keep your arm as limp as possible. I had the same thing going and it was out of socket. When it pulled out again due to the weight and pulled over to the side when I tried to lift it, it went back into the socket perfectly aligned. Might even want to do it with some muscle relaxer working on you. The relief of an arm going back into sock rivals just about anything as far as immediate relief goes. A chiropractor could fix it pronto. I did it to a friend. He went from full out agony to instant relief.

  3. This sounds like it may be something that a chiropractor can treat. Have you got one near you that you know and trust? A thorough neck and back adjustment can do wonders.

    At least start with a chiropractor since they should be much less expensive than an orthopedist. In my experience, the better chiropractors are the ones who don’t charge as much. An old man with a Rube Goldberg-looking treatment table who charges $25 per visit and has been practicing for 40 years will do a much better job than the clinic full of staff with questionably useful high-tech diagnostic equipment that charges $75 or more per visit.

    An honest chiropractor can take a simple x-ray and tell you if you should visit an ortho doc or not.

  4. Eric – You’re probably better off long-term doing stretches and so forth;, as I’m sure you’ve heard, any time they cut open your body is an invitation for disaster. This happens all the time – whether through cosmetic surgery, recommended surgery (e.g. lapband for folks who won’t stop eating), or life saving surgery. Often it’s infection, but it’s not uncommon for the surgeon to screw up and nick some vital organ. And then there’s the hospital stay – screwups happen, whether through general incompetence or because the medical staff is over-burdened; when our kid was born, my wife insisted I stay with her at the hospital.

    There may be a silver lining to this whole Obamacare fiasco. A lot of people have learned to take care of themselves a lot better, and through that realize that a lot of the medical industry is unnecessary or even dangerous.


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