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Pain At Night

Share Your Story: How I Tore My Rotator Cuff

By sssuzie1

Updated June 12, 2012

How I Tore My Rotator Cuff

I'm not sure how I tore my left rotator cuff, only that the pain must have started small but grew and grew until I was only sleeping maybe an hour at a time each night before having to shift position - from any position - just to be out of pain for just another hour. I'm not an athlete, but a mom with 3 kids between the ages of 2 and 17 (at the time of the original pain starting), so I can only imagine it was "wear and tear" compounded by lifting a cuddly 2 year old that finally did me in.

What Happened?

My symptoms were pain - not really much during the day (only if I was reaching for something above my comfortable range of motion, or lifting something) and very much pain, increasingly as the months wore on, at night. Also decreased strength and range of motion. I had no idea it was torn - I had seen a orthopedic shoulder specialist, who I believe thought because my arm wasn't completely immobilized that it couldn't be a tear, just "spurs and needing to be decompressed" (his words, not mine). After 6 weeks of physical therapy, a cortisone shot (which helped for 5 weeks, then wore off and the pain was worse than ever). Saw my shoulder doc again who recommended arthroscopic surgery. I woke up from my surgery expecting a light-use sling for about a week - what I DID wake up with was a full thickness rotator cuff tear, a sling 24/7 for 5 weeks and 2 - 3 months of twice weekly physical therapy.

Lessons Learned

  • Never put off seeing a specialist. And always demand an MRI for further confirmation of a tear (or not). Because by the time I had my surgery, my tendon was only in fair condition - if I'd waited much longer they may not have been able to repair it at all.
  • Strengthening exercises are a MUST to keep your shoulders in good shape and functioning.
  • And lastly, overcompensating with the other shoulder should be avoided - I now have a partial thickness tear of my right shoulder, for which I begin 6 weeks of twice weekly physical therapy today. If that works, great, if not, I'm up for surgery again. Wish me luck!
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