Shoulder Pain – Part 1


Rotator Cuff Tears and Shoulder Pain

Surgery Right?

Dr. Tom Cotter, DC, DACRB

Active Health KC

So often we hear of a friend or family member that has been struggling with ongoing shoulder pain. Most try to ignore it for a while. Eventually they go to their doctor. The doctor takes either an X-ray or MRI and finds a rotator cuff or labral tear. BOOM – surgery next week.

We as a society have become quite quick to jump to surgery. And yes there are a lot of times where that is the only option. But, there is a large percentage of the time they aren’t the answer or are unnecessary. (For more about unnecessary surgeries go to our blog called Fake Surgeries Vs. Real Surgeries – Part 1 and Part 2.)

You might be a bit confused at this point. “How can a surgery be unnecessary if a tear has been identified?” Tears should be view more as a natural part of aging, like wrinkles and gray hair. While some might find them aesthetically unpleasing, they functionally rarely are problematic.

Did you know if you are/were an athlete, especially if you did anything overhead, there is a 78% chance you have a rotator cuff tear and don’t know it? Most of the time the tear is there not causing any problems.

The pain generator ends up being a joint capsule that is too tight compressing the joint. It could also be an imbalance in the musculature causing aberrant movement. Once these improper joint mechanics are found and properly corrected, the shoulder pain goes away.

Now, there are times where a rotator muscle is completely torn/detached from the arm. Cases like that are 100% surgical cases. But, those are much more rare.

So now that I’ve made you question a shoulder surgery it’s time to show you an example of how to fix shoulder pain on your own.

One of the first motions a shoulder loses before shoulder pain ensues is extension. Extension is when your arm is hanging at your side and you move your arm behind you.

When you find the painful shoulder has decreased extension compared to the healthy shoulder, it’s time to start working on shoulder extension. It almost seems too easy right?

The exercise it to use a golf club or broom stick handle to passively push the painful shoulder as far straight back as it will go without pain. Let it fall back to neutral or the starting position and repeat, this time pushing just a little farther. Do this 15 times, each time attempting to push just a little farther. Do this exercise 5 times per day.

shoulder stretch forward shoulder stretch back

If this doesn’t fully resolve your issue, you are having a hard time figuring it out, or you know someone that might benefit from our services, be sure to schedule here from our website or call 913-341-1200.