cervical radiculopathy and rotator cuff tear

by Kristen


» cervical radiculopathy and rotator cuff tear

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.

I hope this contributes.

Dr B

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