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possible torn shoulder ligament

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    Posted: Jun 28 2013 at 1:21pm

Our user asked: "I used to powerlift in the 148lb class many years ago and always had some soreness that I ignored in my right shoulder. It would always fail first when benching, but I was still able to lift heavy and when it would ache, I'd stop and lift lighter for about 8 weeks and it felt much better. It lasted years, but never quite got so bad where I couldn't lift. I've since gotten fat, lazy and weak. I've gained 60lbs from years of driving about as much as a trucker for my job. Recently, I fell with my hands stretched out and messed up my right shoulder. I felt a strong soreness at first, and could move it, but within an hour, I couldn't rotate my arm away from my body, or above my head. I went to the hospital and they x-rayed my shoulder checking to see if the shoulder dislocated. It didn't, so they told me if it still hurts in 2 weeks, come back. It has since been 7 months, and it has healed quite a bit, but it's still very weak, and only recently stopped aching from normal use. I looked up online about ways to figure out what might be wrong, and tried a movement that was suggested. I put my arm behind my back, and tried to move my forearm away from my back. I was not able to, and it was tough even getting my arm in that position. Now I can do the movement, but with much less range of motion than my left arm. I am thinking I may have torn a ligament or tendon, but don't know how to tell, or how to work toward strengthening it without re-injuring it. I want to get back to weight training, but not powerlifting. Should I ease into any movement that uses my shoulder and see how it feels, or should I wait longer without using it? How long does a tendon or ligament take to heal if it's not torn all the way through?"

Ask a PT Response: "From your history you have given, it wouldn't be surprising to me that you may have injured your rotator cuff. Lifting of from behind your back stresses the infraspinatus which is part of the rotator cuff (RC). RC pathology often involves weakness, loss of range of motion and pain. As far as your question of easing into the movement or waiting longer, it would be hard for me to give you advice on this unless I physically examined you. I often would tell my patients to let pain be their guide. Therefore, if it hurts, they should back off or not perform the activity. Once a tendon or ligament is torn, they don't fully heal. Scar tissue will develop which acts like a band aid. If you continue to have problems, I'd recommend you seek out medical attention especially if you'd like to return to lifting."
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