Shoulder injuries and dysfunction tend to be more common in people who perform repetitive overhead motion or weight bearing activities with their shoulders. People engaged in overhead or racket sports, throwing athletes, and athletes participating in contact sports are at a higher risk for sholder injuries. Many of the sports that are popular in South Florida can lead to shoulder pain, including baseball, volleyball, tennis, golf, surfing, stand up paddleboarding, swimming, water polo, and gymnastics.
Patients who practice yoga and martial arts or participate in CrossFit or high intensity training are also susceptible to shoulder injuries. Shoulder injuries can affect athletes of all ages, including adolescent and collegiate athletes, professionals, weekend warriors, and the senior athlete. Patients whose interests or occupations involve sustained above eye level activity or heavy lifting with their arms are also at risk. There is also a genetic predisposition to certain shoulder conditions, and many are linked to medical diagnoses. For example, patients with high cholesterol are considered to be at higher risk for rotator cuff disease. Similarly, diabetes, thyroid disease, and Dupuytren disease can all be risk factors for developing a frozen shoulder.
If you are having symptoms of shoulder pain, limited mobility, or weakness, consider scheduling a consultation with a shoulder specialist like Dr. Diaz.
If you are concerned about your shoulders and want to protect them, daily shoulder stretches and strengthening exercises as recommended by a physician may be helpful. These sorts of techniques are especially beneficial if you have a history of shoulder pain, as they can help prevent future injury. Consulting with a shoulder specialist before engaging in any new fitness or shoulder conditioning program can help avoid injury or worsening of existing symptoms. As a general rule, open chain exercises (ex: lifting free weights out to the sides) , strengthening that involves fast, uncontrolled, or jerky motions or excessive weight, or ramping up your exercise routine too rapidly can all lead to injury. Maintaining good posture and overall bone and joint health are also important for preventing shoulder pain and dysfunction. Adhering to a mostly plant-based diet that limits sugar and eliminates packaged, processed, or genetically modified foods, can also improve shoulder health and overall musculoskeletal health.
I get asked by almost every rotator cuff repair patient how soon after surgery they can drive. I tell them short familiar distances in a car with automatic transmission after their first post op visit at 2 weeks, but this advice was based on expert opinion alone and not a scientific study.
Now there is great news for patients having shoulder surgery for rotator cuff repair! A recent study showed that it is safe for patients to drive with a sling on as early as 2 weeks after rotator cuff surgery. The study measured driving performance in patients before and at different time points after rotator cuff surgery. The research team evaluated the patients' ability to park, turn, yield to oncoming traffic, make a U-turn, and merge onto the highway, among other measurements of 'driving fitness'. They found that rotator cuff surgery and the use of a sling did not negatively impact their driving ability as early as 2 weeks after surgery.
This finding should come as a great relief to patients who keep putting off rotator cuff surgery because of concerns over not being able to drive, patients who live alone or with someone who works or doesn't drive, as well as patients who live in areas lacking in robust public transportation infrastructure. It gives patients peace of mind to drive as early as two weeks after their surgery, and means they don't have to rely on someone else or incur transportation costs to attend in-person therapy.
Note: Patients should only drive if they feel comfortable doing so and only if they are not requiring prescription pain medication. It always helps to have another licensed driver in the passenger seat on the first attempt, in case one doesn't feel ready. It stands to reason that these findings apply to operating a vehicle with automatic transmission. Remember: safety is always first.
Many of my patients are rightly motivated to avoid or limit the use of opioids after shoulder surgery. Opioids have obviously led to a devastating addiction and overdose crisis in our society, not to mention the nasty side effects of nausea, vomiting, and constipation. In this video, Dr. Michael Alaia, a fellow shoulder surgeon at NYU Langone, presents his group's research into the use of CBD in dissolvable form (to minimize loss of efficacy when metabolized by the gut when taken in swallowed form) after rotator cuff surgery. Patients who took CBD reported better pain control compared to those who were given a 'sugar pill' or placebo. CBD is a promising alternative to opioids for postoperative pain control.
Because shoulder conditions affect each individual differently, please contact us at (561) 746-7686 or submit an online appointment request form to schedule a consultation with Dr. Diaz.