Home Blog Dr. Tim Harcourt of Coast Chiropractic Centers Outlines That Indeed Not All Shoulder Pain Is Caused By a Rotator Cuff Tear

Dr. Tim Harcourt of Coast Chiropractic Centers Outlines That Indeed Not All Shoulder Pain Is Caused By a Rotator Cuff Tear

Aug 6, 2021 -- Posted by : Dr.Harcourt

One of the most common causes of shoulder pain is a rotator cuff (RC) tear. To determine just how common this is, one study looked at a population of 683 people regardless of whether or not they had shoulder complaints. There were 229 males and 454 females for a total of 1,366 shoulders. (The participants’ average age was 58 years, ranging from 22 to 87 years old.)

The research team found 20.7% had full-thickness rotator cuff tears. Of those with shoulder pain, only 36% had tears found on ultrasound. Of those without shoulder pain, 17% also had tears! Risk factors for an increase in tearing of the rotator cuff include a history of trauma, the dominant arm (ie your right arm if you’re right-handed), and increasing age.

In a review of radiologic studies of 2,553 shoulders, researchers found full-thickness rotator cuff tears in 11.75% and partial thickness tears in 18.49% of the subjects for a total of 30.24% having some degree of tearing. In this group, about 40% of tears were found in pain-free shoulders. The researchers concluded that rotator cuff tears are common and frequently asymptomatic.

Both of these studies support the necessity to FIRST consider the patient’s clinical presentation and then correlate that with the imaging results. In other words, the presence of a RC tear on an image (usually MRI or ultrasound) does NOT necessarily mean there is pain (and vise versa)!

So what other things could be causing the shoulder pain? There are many: impingement, tendonitis, bursitis, muscle strain, capsular (and other ligaments) sprain, frozen shoulder, and osteoarthritis (the “wearing out” type). Also, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, polymyalgia rheumatica and other autoimmune types of “arthropathies,” fibromyalgia, a herniated cervical disk, shoulder dislocations, whiplash injuries, and more!

Most importantly, we must NOT forget to include referred pain to the shoulder from an impaired heart (such as coronary heart disease or heart attack), lung, liver, or gall bladder as these problems commonly refer to pain to the shoulder and may represent a MEDICAL EMERGENCY!

So, if you are experiencing shoulder pain and you type in chiropractor near me, pain management near me, and you find that Coast Chiropractic Centers with Dr. Timothy Harcourt, me, comes up.  You may wonder, what is wrong with my shoulder?  Do I have a muscle strain in the shoulder muscles? If it is a strained muscle, why is it getting worse instead of better? Perhaps, you have been taking chemicals and the pain persists as well? Do I have tendonitis?  Is it a rotator cuff or rotator cup problem? Pickleball, golf, and tennis are common sports to cause shoulder pain. Some try shoulder workouts with the shoulder muscles to no avail. We have had some applying chemical gel to the affected area with temporary relief at best.  Persistent or worsening pain intensity and/or frequency necessitates a visit to see a professional before it becomes a frozen shoulder.  Call me, Dr. Tim Harcourt, at (239) 278-3344 and mention this article for an awesome discounted first visit to include history, exam, and adjustment or first Class IV high-intensity laser treatment

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