Wednesday, May 13, 2015

ROTATOR CUFF INJURY and
NATURAL TREATMENTS
Discovering ways to naturally treat a new injury I am dealing with, leads to my sharing the experience in hopes of helping others. During the middle of March, my body was put to a test again. This time it was dealing with a rotator cuff injury. 
My left shoulder had been giving me some slight problems off and on through the winter months. But on the day that I reached for a set of heavy mixing bowls with my left arm, it set my shoulder "over the edge". I felt a strong pain on the inner part of the shoulder and pretty much ignored it. By evening, a dull aching was present whether the joint was moving or still. The pain became pretty intense. Using arnica tablets and the gel was the first course of action. After a few hours, this was not addressing the pain and I started taking 200 mg of ibuprofen, hoping to be able to sleep. While taking non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is not something I regularly do or advocate, they have their place at times to ease pain. Sleeping on my back to avoid any pressure on my shoulder also helped get me through the night. The next morning it was still a very serious problem and the limited range of motion I was experiencing, also a big concern. Having heard about "frozen shoulder", this was not something I wanted to end up with. 
Referring to  Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition, gave me some therapies to immediately try. The first one I had actually used years ago to treat tennis elbow. It involves the use of hot castor oil packs, HERITAGE PRODUCTS Castor Oil. A little bit is heated and then a clean cloth (piece of towel or t shirt) is soaked with it. This is applied to the injury, covered with plastic wrap or a bag and a heating pad is used to keep the area warm/hot for about 30 minutes. After doing this, about 30 minutes later, the area is iced for 15-20 minutes. Alternating a hot castor oil pack and an ice pack was done every couple hours throughout the day. My usual daily intake of Jarrow Formulas MSM Sulfur,
1000mg was increased to 1000 mg 4 or 5 times a day because it is a natural anti-inflammatory but I also kept taking the ibuprofen. It was Sunday and Monday I would be calling to make an appointment with my family doctor. It was important to determine if this was bursitis, a frozen shoulder, etc. The pain had lessened by Monday but my range of motion had not increased, it was very painful when forced and I didn't know it I should be moving or resting the shoulder. On Tuesday, the exam involved me attempting to move my shoulder in various positions. From this, the doctor diagnosed it was a rotator cuff injury but not yet a frozen shoulder. He suggested a steroid shot to calm down the area and a stronger non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as naproxen. I declined both and he wrote me a prescription for a stronger dose of ibuprofen which was never filled. But my request for physical therapy was approved and became the next course of action. 
The following day I was at PT, evaluated and started on a course of treatment. Two sessions the first week really helped as the therapist worked on my upper back and shoulder blades, loosening "knots" in the muscles. This along with some exercises to be done at home and icing, had me off ibuprofen by the end of the week. Continuing with MSM, PT sessions 3 times a week for the first two weeks, then 2 times for the following two weeks, led me to a full recovery of my range of motion and no pain! After my final last visit on the fourth week, my therapist was as pleased with my progress as I was. Continuing exercises at home and icing after over use of my shoulder were recommended. Nearly 6 weeks later I am happy to report all is still well with a pain free, full range of motion. 
Physical Therapy has always been high on my list of natural treatments for injuries and has proven its worth again with my rotator cuff. But I also feel avoiding the use of steroids and prescription anti inflammatory drugs allows our body to heal correctly without harmful side effects. Pain does serve its purpose when we are injured. It is the body letting us know something is wrong, needs attention/treatment and will improve with time. I know how difficult it is to believe this while in the midst of intense pain and discomfort. But it never ceases to amaze me that we can recover by doing it the safe and proper way.


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