Ask Dr. B Episode 15: Shoulder Pain & Injuries

Causes and Treatment (Q&A)

By Dr. Erin Boynton, MD, FRCS

Shoulder pain, rotator cuff injuries, bursitis and impingement are all common issues, especially with those who lift weights or do a lot of bodyweight resistance training.

Questions covered in this episode:

  • 1:00 – What is the difference between Tendinosis and Tendinitis? Can you recover from tendinosis (from swimming) …. without surgery? I had an MRI 10/2017 indicating tendinosis. I’m 60% improved after almost 3 years, however, freestyle stroke makes it “flare up.” Can I expect more? I do resistance band exercises daily. I realize I’m 72 y/o but I think I have some good years left. Ten years of swimming. Never really had professional instruction. When I started to develop right shoulder pain .. I just pushed through it. It didn’t really bother me during my swim, but I had muscle “ache” afterwards. It got to the point where I stopped all freestyle stroke, but continued swimming (other strokes) for the aerobic benefit. ​Could you advise on dealing with shoulder pain from swimming – I’m 58 and swim several times a week.
  • 1:06 – How can you tell the difference between injury, frozen shoulder, and arthritis? I’ve been told three different things by three different professionals.
  • 1:10 – Earlier this year, I developed right shoulder impingement. After a few months of PT and stretching (with the help of Eric’s videos!), my ROM improved significantly, and the impingement resolved. However, I still wake up with anterior-superior R shoulder pain in the AM (especially when I sleep on that side). If I move my shoulder, I can feel some pops, and the pain improves. I have no real limitations to activity, ROM, or strength anymore. What can I do about this pain (aside from not sleeping on that side anymore, which is tough). I’m still doing Eric’s ROM exercises, which are fantastic. Currently not climbing or boxing due to COVID. In Feb I had R impingement. After PT & Eric’s videos, it resolved. But I still wake up w/ant R pain (esp if I sleep on R). If I rotate R scap, I feel some ant shoulder pops & pain improves. Thoughts?
  • 1:12 – Do all minor tears on a rotator cuff need an operation?
  • 1:14 – ​Would love to hear Dr B’s thoughts on how to approach shoulder pain from biceps tendonitis and how this might contrast with shoulder impingement.
  • 1:23 – My ortopetic surgeon says i got a labral tear but i feel so much pain in my armpit. Does it make sense?
  • 1:25 – ​External rotation with bent elbow is where my greatest impingement remains (after 6 mos. of PT). Any hints to get this remaining impinged movement back?
  • 1:28 – ​Hi Dr B. can a large calcification of the supraspinitus be remedied with rehab or is this a situation that needs some sort of surgery? Currently 3 sessions into a course of shockwave therapy.

Previous Episodes:

Ep 11: Lower Back Pain: Myths vs Facts (Herniated Disc Recovery, Chronic Pain, Stretching)

Ep 12: Plantar Fasciitis Causes and Treatment (when you can’t stand it anymore!)

Ep 13: What Causes Tennis Elbow? Best Treatment and Natural History:

Ep 14: Anterior Knee Pain: What’s Causing It and How to Stop It

About the Author

Dr. Erin Boynton, MD, FRCS is an orthopedic surgeon who was the team surgeon for the Toronto Blue Jays for 10 years and has worked with other professional teams and athletes from many different sports. She currently serves as the Chief Medical Director of the Rogers Cup WTA Tennis Tournament and is the ITF Canadian Champion in tennis for her age group (we won't say which group that is!).