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  • Can overuse and stiffness cause injury?

    My father has rotator cuff tears in both of his shoulders.  Not from direct injuries but from overuse and stiffness.  He doesn’t do much to work the range of motion in his shoulders and they are the stiffest part of his body.  He does no stretching and, as he ages, little to no exercise beyond work.  He owns a driving company and is constantly cleaning out limousines and cars.  It is repetitive work and with no movement or stretching to counter balance this work, he developed tears in both shoulders.  At first, only the right side was damaged, but he refused to see a doctor.  He is terribly claustrophobic and refused to get an MRI for years.  After several years of pain on the right, and overusing the left arm, he began to have the same pain on the left.

    He finally had a bilateral (two-sided) MRI done and the damage was extensive.  He not only had tears in the tendons of both supraspinatus muscles, he had also torn both biceps (long head tendon) off the humerus’.  Additionally, he had torn the labrum on the right.  He had the surgery for the right side, but it didn’t take.  I think he chose the wrong doctor.  He was doing fine for the first four months.  Then he went in and complained of pain.  He was complaining of stiffness and pain from lack of movement, but the doctor for some reason gave him a cortisone shot and told him to actively stretch the area.  The combination of the two things tore the tendon off the anchors this doctor had put in.

    The second surgery, done by a different doctor, who didn’t believe in cortisone (a shot that is way, way, way overused in our world), took and held.  This doctor did more work during the surgery.  But they did not repair the long head of the biceps, which had calcified to the bicepital groove.  The doctor said they couldn’t have made it any more stable than it was.  True to form, my father waited too long on the left and is now in the same amount of pain on the left as he was on the right, meaning a longer surgery, possibly a larger incision, more damage to repair, and a longer healing time when he finally does do this.  I am waiting to tell him that it has been so long that the doctor will probably want another MRI.  We can postpone that freakout for a while longer.



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