Sam Bauman: Rotator cuff problems can hit seniors hard |

Sam Bauman: Rotator cuff problems can hit seniors hard

Sam Bauman

Back in my ski-teaching days there were two common injuries: ACL and rotator cuff. ACL was damage to the anterior cruciate knee ligament and a real season-ender. Rotator cuff was a common mishap in everything from tennis to golf. I was lucky; never suffered either.

The Mayo Clinic recently published a guide to the rotator cuff, noting that older adults are more likely to suffer rotator injuries due to age-related body changes.

Rotator doesn’t just affect sports. The injury can cause pain that interferes with sleep and stiffness that interferes with ordinary tasks such as putting on a shirt or reaching into a cupboard. Shoulder joints are complex ball-and-socket with the ball part at the top of the arm bone (humerus) and the ball joint part of the shoulder blade (scapula).

Injury to the rotator cuff basically affects the tendons with tendinopathy, which causes pain with overhead arm movements and can cause pain at night. If symptoms are limited the condition may be called tendinitis.

Tendon tears can cause pain and weakness. Some tears cause no symptoms, particularly with seniors.

Rotator can also cause irritation to the bursa resulting in swelling of the bursa (bursitis) which can be painful.

Age related tendon changes are often involved in rotator cuff problems. This make older adults open to rotator cuff tendinopathy.

Other problems can include pinching of tendons or bursa. Calcium deposits may develop within tendons and poor posture such as slouched forward can put undue stress on the rotator.

Minor pain will be eased with self care:

Avoiding irritating movements. Use your shoulder but not if it’s painful. You may want to make tennis strokes sidearm or swimming with side or breast stroke.

Use of ice or heat to an injured area for 15 minutes four five times a day can reduce inflammation.

A few days of pain meds such a Tylenol or Aleve can help ease pain.

Gentle shoulder moves that don’t hurt help maintain shoulders without aggravation. One example is the pendulum exercise. Bend over the side of a table and hold the edge with the unhurt arm. Let the uninjured arm hang completely relaxed and use the body to swing the arm forward or backward or side to side in a pendulum motion. Five or 10 minutes at a time several times a day.

Talk with your doctor about what’s next. Physical therapy, a corticosteroid injection or surgery may be the best solution.

Movies good and so-so

When I commented here on the first “John Wick” film about a year ago I wrote this:

“If you’re at all squeamish you may not want to see the not-quite-noir film ‘John Wick.’ By my count Wick (Keanu Reeves) stabs, shoots and knives at least 70 victims in this mob-oriented movie. Starts out with Wick meandering around his spiffy modern mansion, a retired former killer gone casual. He is a widower as his wife died of an illness but remembered to send Wick a puppy to love. It’s delivered and it’s love at first puppy smile.’

Now there’s “John Wick: Chapter 2” at the Galaxy cinema. Not a very alluring title, but maybe the producers think as the first did well at the box office why dress it up.

Much of the above applies to Chapter 2, with Wick involved in a long shooting in which he guns down bad guys in a beautifully choreographed sequence as he takes down dozens of bad guys, popping them off at every step. He also drives his lovely car with skill and reloads his gun with ease.

If you enjoyed the first “Wick” film you probably delight in No. 2. No real plot that makes sense, but gobs of gunfire. Wick even reloads his guns in mid-gun fight.

There’s another movie out, “The Great Wall” of China, of course, and it stars Matt Damon. He’s in China seeking the “Black Powder” (early gun powder). Also on hand are Jing Tian, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Pedro Pascal. Jing Tian may not be well known in the West, but that may well change as she is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Plot is China’s Great Wall is about to be breached by hordes of CGI monsters.

The battle scenes are as epic as CGI can make them. If Damon looks a bit uncomfortable with a quiver full of arrows, don’t worry, he does his role bravely, friendly with Tian but largely lost amid the armies of Chinese.

This is a great fun film. No great politics involved, far from our contemporary world. See it for the CGI spectacle and take the kids. They’ll give you cover for what is basically a kiddie movie all dressed up. No deep thoughts here, just lots of fun.

Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.