Is Your Shoulder Pain from Your Rotator Cuff?
The rotator cuff consists of four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis) that surround your shoulder blade and attach to your upper arm (humerus) via their own tendon. These four tendons converge to form a “cuff” or covering over the head of the humerus, allowing you to lift and rotate your arm. Issues with any one of these can cause rotator cuff pain you should talk to a shoulder injury doctor in San Francisco about.
A rotator cuff surgeon in San Francisco would be interested in the severity of the pain. It may range from a dull, aching sensation to sharp pain that moves down the upper arm when reaching overhead or sleeping on the affected side.
Sharp or aching pain and swelling can also be an indicator of rotator cuff tendinitis or a tear.
Throbbing pain at night is also common in individuals with rotator cuff tendinitis or a tear. For some people, the shoulder pain may awaken them from sleep.
In addition, it’s not uncommon for the pain of rotator cuff tendinitis or a tear to be felt further down the arm from the shoulder. This has to do with the location of the nerves that pass by the deeper parts of the shoulder.
Rotator cuff pain is most commonly caused by an inflamed tendon (tendinitis) or torn tendon. Less commonly, rotator cuff pain may from result from a condition called rotator cuff tendinosis—when the tendons become frayed or worn down as a result of increasing age and overuse.
When to See a Doctor
Any severe shoulder pain and/or pain that comes on suddenly warrants medical attention from a shoulder surgeon in San Francisco, as does any significant swelling or bruising around the shoulder joint or signs of infection like redness and warmth.
Seek immediate medical attention, as well, if your shoulder pain is associated with other unusual symptoms like trouble breathing, dizziness, or abdominal pain.
Other signs that warrant a doctor’s visit include:
- An inability to lift your arm above your head or carry objects
- Any trauma or injury to the shoulder, especially if there is deformity to the joint
- Shoulder pain that is persistent or worsening
The lidocaine injection test is sometimes used by some shoulder injury doctors in San Francisco to help distinguish between rotator cuff tendinitis and a tear. Distinguishing between these two conditions is important because it affects the overall treatment plan.
During this test, lidocaine is injected into the shoulder joint. If a person has a rotator cuff tendonitis, the lidocaine will relieve the pain and muscle strength will remain normal. If a person has a rotator cuff tear, the pain will be relieved, but the muscle will remain weak.
Do You Think You Need a Shoulder Surgeon in San Francisco to Examine You?
Are you experiencing shoulder pain accompanied by deficits in strength? Contact Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht for a consultation today.