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Don’t Ignore That Aching Shoulder

Do you toss and turn at night because of your aching shoulder? Do you have to sleep all night on only one side because of shoulder pain? If so, that painful night’s sleep may be a sign of a rotator cuff tear.

The pain associated with a rotator cuff injury may:

  • Be described as a dull ache deep in the shoulder
  • Disturb sleep, particularly if you lie on the affected shoulder
  • Cause limited ability to move your arm, making it difficult to comb your hair or reach behind your back
  • Be accompanied by arm weakness

Getting older, playing certain sports, and having certain jobs may increase your risk for suffering from a rotator cuff tear. For example, occupations such as carpentry or house painting require repetitive arm motions that may damage the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff is a complex system of muscles and tendons that help you rotate your arm and lift it overhead. Pain on the outside part of your shoulder is a sign of an irritated rotator cuff tendon and may be due to a tear. If the rotator cuff is torn and not treated, it can lead to muscle atrophy and the inability to raise the arm overhead.

Lehigh Valley Health Network orthopedic surgeons reccomend that shoulder pain that doesn’t get better with a few days of rest should be evaluated by a physician. It may be just an irritated tendon that can be treated with rest, strengthening and stretching exercises, or a quick corticosteroid injection in your doctor’s office. However, depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may require an MRI scan to look for a tear. Rotator cuff tears should be surgically repaired as soon as possible to prevent long term pain and loss of function.