Shoulder pain is frequently diagnosed as ‘rotator cuff syndrome’. I’ve heard patients call it ‘rotor cup’ or ‘rotating cuff’. What is this mysterious ‘rotator cuff’ anyway?
The human shoulder is an extremely mobile joint and the boney parts of the shoulder don’t hold it together at all because the cup part of the shoulder blade is very shallow. Conventional thinking goes that the shoulder joint is held together by the 4 ‘rotator cuff’ muscles (shown here), and that a tear in one or more of this set of muscles creates shoulder pain.
People with shoulder pain may also get told that they have tendonitis or bursitis, thoracic outlet syndrome, bone spurs or arthritis. Over the years of using Mechanical Link, I’ve found that most of the time, what the X-rays or MRIs show is irrelevant, and the doctor’s guess is just a guess. I treat some other part of the body, as determined by manual testing and palpation and the shoulder problem improves and eventually goes away, long-term. It’s different for each patient – on one young woman from Eastern Europe, it was the pull of the skin from her large vaccination scar. On a middle-aged man who still hadn’t regained shoulder mobility after surgery and two months of physical therapy, it was the injury sustained when he got punched in the nose in high school.
It’s a sunny spring day in April, and the African violets by my window are delighting in the light. “What can I do for you today?”, I ask Jim. The big, balding man with a broad open face sitting by my desk is a successful businessman. He’s told me before that I changed his life; that before he came to me, his shoulder hurt so much that he was miserable, irritable and hard to be around. The friends, family and co-workers that Jim has sent to me since then confirm this about him, and are grateful that he’s a different person these days.
“My shoulder is killing me”, he says, moving his arm to show me how he can’t lift it over his head. “I need to get back to playing golf; I haven’t done anything all winter.” “How long was it good for after last time?” I ask him. “Oh, I don’t know. About two months. And then, it’s right back to hurting.”
“Okay, let’s see what we find.” He’s had ten treatments over the last two years and a half and so, in my testing today I don’t find many restrictions. I check his chart. “You know, Jim, you last came to see me in November. But the time before that was December. How were you during the summer?”
“Oh! Really?! Wow, the time goes so fast! Well, I was fine, no problem. Huh. I guess I’ve done a lot better than I thought”.
Finally, I do find the primary restriction in his face. To be more precise, in his left eye socket. There’s an interesting bone named the ethmoid. It forms the upper part of the nasal septum (divides the halves of the nose), the inner wall of the eye socket, and also part of the ‘floor’ that the frontal cortex of the brain rests on. Like everywhere else in the body, there is also fascial tissue here. It’s the packing material, connecting, fibrous stuff that holds us all together.
Jim is lying on the table. “Okay, show me how your shoulder moves.” He lifts his arm painfully and can’t get it even parallel with his nose. Then, I release the fascia around the ethmoid where it’s stuck – reaching delicately but deeply into the nose side of his left eye with thumb and forefinger. The release is quick – and so light as to be almost nothing. Often, people don’t even feel it.
“Try moving your shoulder again.” As the arm moves halfway to Jim’s ear, he rolls his eyes and suppressed grins appear on both our faces.
“When they’re tying me to the stake and lighting the faggots, you’ll come and rescue me, right?”, I ask.