Often both conditions in the shoulder area are involved to some degree.
Pain is generally felt around the outside of the shoulder and upper arm. Often most painful when the arm is above head height and while sleeping at night. It can also be painful to raise your arm out to the side, reach behind you or lift or pull a heavy weight.
The upper arm bone (humerus) connects into the ball joint of the shoulder and the rotator cuff is the socket edge of the shoulder joint.
For computer users, these conditions can result from a sustained imbalance in the use of the four muscles which stabilise the shoulder and allow movement of the arm.
Two potential causes are poor mouse ergonomics and carrying laptop bags on your shoulder.
Rotator Cuff Syndrome or Impingement Syndrome refers to damage of either the tendons (which anchor muscle to bone) or bursa (which act like a gel pad around bone). Usually Rotator Cuff Tendonitis and Subacromial Bursitis are involved together to some degree because inflammation is the body’s general reaction to damage and inflammation causes more movement restriction which in turn can cause more stress on already damaged structures.
Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
Rotator Cuff Tendonitis specifically refers to tears, irritation or inflammation in the tendons connecting to the rotator cuff. Tendons connect muscles to bone and the rotator cuff is the socket edge of the shoulder joint.
Subacromial Bursitis is inflammation of the fluid filled sac (Subacromial bursa) underneath the collar bone (clavicle). It protects the tendons from rubbing against ligaments and collar bone. Imagine a gel pad on a bike saddle or a wrist rest!
Treatment of Rotator Cuff Syndrome
Decreasing the inflammation will decrease the pain. So if it causes pain, it’s a good indicator that you shouldn’t do it! Cortisone (steroid) injections into the inflammed area can be helpful as can Physiotherapy.
Treatments of any kind should be combined with rest. For computer users who need to continue working, appropriate ergonomic tools will help prevent further damage and thereby aid recovery.
Tools that can help reduce the degree of stress and misalignment are below. You will have an understanding whether the problem is more likely to be caused while at your desk or while carrying a laptop around of course so consider these on their merits for your particular case:-
- An ergonomic mouse is easy to get used to and eliminates the twisting forces down your arm caused by a conventional mouse.
- A wheeled laptop bag considerably reduces the twisting action on your upper back and shoulder area.
- Posture Minder software comes with appropriate stretch exercises and also actively monitors your posture.
- A telephone headset eliminates the strain placed on your neck, shoulder and arm, particularly if you hold a handset between your cheek and shoulder.
- Speech recognition software gives the wrists, arm, elbow and neck a rest through being able to dictate emails, reports etc.
Visit the Computer Posture RSI Store
For a range of ergonomic vertical mice, straps, supports and pain relief please see the categories under our RSI Shop in the menu above. This site’s primary aim is to help fellow sufferers like ourselves.
Our store has appropriate selected items at competitive prices and helps support this site for other RSI sufferers.
Physiotherapy for Rotator Cuff Syndrome
You must see a Doctor or Physiotherapist before trying any physiotherapy exercises. However to find more information about Physiotherapy for Rotator Cuff Syndrome, you can read a concise explanation of many of the issues and appropriate exercises can be found on the Australian website PhysioAdvisor.
Further information on the condition and Strengthening Exercises from PhysioAdvisor are well worth a read.