Nerve pain in the arm post surgery for a rotator cuff tear.

by Cindy
(Austin,Tx)

Joint of Luschka injury

Joint of Luschka injury

Nerve pain in the arm post surgery for a rotator cuff tear.

I had rotator cuff surgery in July 3,2015; had a medium tear, surgery and recovery went well; good mobility.

Now for the past month I wake with severe pain in my armpit that travels down toward elbow, only way I can get relief is to hold arm up. This last anywhere from 20 min. to 2 hrs. As long as I use arm, gets tired easily, everything is ok; then, when I sit back to rest, the armpit pain returns.

Also my pinky and ring finger has pins and needles most all the time now.

The doctor said this is unrelated to the rotator cuff surgery.

Does anyone have any idea what is going on with me?

Dear Cindy,
Sometimes a condition is actually a symptoms of something else. Like, for example, raised blood sugar is often really a sign of obesity; unless you treat the underlying problem, the condition won't go away.

Very many shoulder conditions are actually secondary to a problem in the lower cervical spine, or first rib.

Your doctor is probably right; the surgery didn't cause this pain in the arm you are experiencing, but it was there all along causing the weakness in the rotator cuff, provoking one of them to tear when you did something routine with your arm.

There are two important signs; tingling in the pinky and ring finger, that's pure C8 dermatome, and relief by raise your arm; that's called the shoulder abduction relief sign.

You almost certainly have a seriously pinched nerve in the neck; it causes tingling in a specific dermatome, weakness in the muscles supplied by the C8 nerve root, relief by placing your hand on your head and increased pain by carrying anything in the arm. That stretches the nerve which is tethered in your neck.

The way forward is xrays of your cervical spine, including obliques, and probably a MRI. Then, once a diagnosis is made you have the difficult decision whether to stick with mainline medicine, or try something different. I'm afraid neither will be easy. Occasionally in the chiropractic clinic miracles happen, but mostly it's hard work for your DC, and patience on your part.

You probably have degenerative changes in the joints of Luschka or a slipped disc.

Remember, I'm being the devil's advocate. I have not had the privilege of examining you, but I do have 35 years of treating conditions like yours under the belt. Anything you read on the internet should be treated with caution, including what I've written.

Print this out perhaps, and starting looking for a local chiropractor with a good reputation for being conscientious and hard working; it's going to take that. Ask you doctor for a name too.

Good luck and let us know how you progress.

Dr B



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