I will try to be brief: fused from c-3 to c-6, diagnosed with permanent cervical radiculopathy on right side at c-6 to c-7, two rotator cuff surgeries right side complete full thickness tears (anchors from first surgery ripped out), 7 surgeries from 2003 to 2015 (began at age 36).
Question: what do you know about rotator cuff tears and permanent cervical radiculopathy? Also diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Have to hold my arm over my head in order to decrease arm pain at night. Worried rotator cuff will tear again. Not sure if I should seek disability or continue to compromise my health? Thanks.
Hello Kristen, It's a sad tale, and I'll see what I can do to answer your questions as honestly as possible.
But first a question for you; looking back, with hindsight, what you do differently if you knew in 2003 what you now know?
These three conditions, cervical radiculopathy, rotator cuff tears and fibromyalgia are all intertwined. Any muscle with a hindered nerve supply, will ache, and become weak and eventually tear. You presumably had an old injury to your neck. Any car accidents lurking in your history?
Firstly, for your neck. I'm not sure that chiropractic can contribute much. Certainly frank manipulation at those levels is impossible; above and below is possible by a very skilled chiropractor, but there is certainly a degree of risk. Of course there's risk of kidney failure and stomach ulcers if you just continue to take painkillers.
The relief you get by raising your arm is called the Shoulder Abduction Relief sign; one or more nerve roots are still seriously compromised despite all the surgeries.
I would start by getting a home cervical traction unit; they are not expensive. Get one that is used lying down. You spend about 20-30 minutes per day, or longer, lying in traction, gradually increasing the weight. The research showing it will help is weak, but there are absolutely no dangers associated with its use, so in my book it's worth a try.
There are various exercisers that you can get for home use for your shoulder. It needs gentle daily exercise, starting with isometrics. At the webpage below you find out how to make one for yourself.
On top of that, I would do range of motion exercises for your shoulder, as you are at quite high risk of getting a frozen shoulder, a very painful malady.
For all of the above get local advice from someone who specializes in such.
Where I think chiropractic could help a lot is working with your midback, below the surgeries, and with that shoulder. See if you can find someone with a FICS qualification; sports chiropractic.
1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.
2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.
3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree.
Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.
4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.
He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.
5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.
6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.
7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.
8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.
9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.
10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.
11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.
12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.
13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback
since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he
has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments
he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?
And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.
Greetings, Dr B. You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.
Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.
You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.
The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.
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Issue #50: Make time for breakfast / Scrambled eggs and parsley
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Issue #47: Life without medication/ Eight coloured foods
Issue #46: Lower backs and ankles/ kaempferol and cancer prevention
Issue #45: Tingling, weakness and malaise/ vitamin B1
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