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Ask Your Physical Therapist: How to avoid shoulder surgery
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Ask Your Physical Therapist: How to avoid shoulder surgery

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Who wouldn’t want to avoid shoulder surgery?

It certainly can be avoided, and here’s a look at how.

The best way to avoid surgery is to prevent injury/damage to the shoulder in the first place. To do this, avoid sleeping on your side with your arm overhead (whether it be the arm/side you are lying on or not), on your back with your hands behind your head, or on your stomach with your arms overhead. Sleeping in these positions compresses the tendons in your shoulder, which over time, can pinch these tendons and potentially cause tears in them over time. When you hear people saying “I have a tear in my rotator cuff” or “I need rotator cuff surgery,” these are the pinched or torn tendons they are referring to.

So, how should you sleep? Well, it’s not as bad as it sounds. You certainly can sleep on your back, side or stomach, but the key is to sleep in those positions with your arms down at your side or below shoulder level.

Another key to avoiding shoulder surgery is to avoid overhead repetitive motions such as painting, hanging drywall or lifting weights overhead. All of these activities can be done in small doses with correct form, but doing them day in and day out or with the wrong technique can cause damage to the tendons in your shoulder and the shoulder joint, over time.

Another method is to strengthen your rotator cuff and your back/shoulder blade muscles. In addition to helping you to avoid shoulder surgery, following this key point can also help you avoid the need for pain pills or painful shots. The rotator cuff and shoulder blade muscles are responsible for keeping your shoulder strong, stable and in the right position. When they are not strong, they allow the shoulder joint to compress, which irritates the shoulder joint and the rotator cuff tendons/muscles.

Also, come see one of our shoulder experts at Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy so that we can listen to the shoulder issues you are having, determine the root cause of them and tell you how to fix it.

Whether you are trying to avoid shoulder replacement surgery, rotator cuff surgery, pills or shots—or, you just want to get rid of the shoulder pain so you can get back to living life and keeping up with your friends and family—here’s what to do next to get results:

  • If you would like more information, call 717-245-0400 or email me at to request your exclusive, free report “5 Quick Ways to End Your Shoulder Pain” developed our leading shoulder experts at Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy.
  • Call us to schedule a one-on-one, free screen with one of our expert physical therapists so that we can listen to you and tell you how we can get you back to doing what you need, want and love to do.
  • Call to schedule a free phone consultation with one of our experts if you prefer to chat on the phone versus face-to-face so we can listen to the issues you are having and tell you the next best step.

Steve Miller has more than 20 years of experience providing physical therapy and pedorthic services and is the co-owner of Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy. His column appears bi-weekly in the Thrive section of the Sentinel and online at


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