Gugu: We welcome our listeners to Radio Clinic, Kasi FM, 107.3 FM where we have a new guest today. She is Dr Corne Ackermann. Doc, tell us more about what you do and where you work from?
Dr Corne: Thank you Gugu. Good day to all our listeners. I am an orthopaedic surgeon. That is a specialist doctor that deals with problems of the bones, joints, muscles and nerves of the arms and legs. I practice in Mbombela at the Nelmed Forum, close to the Civic Centre.
Gugu: Dr Corne, what will we be discussing today?
Dr Corne: We will be discussing a very common shoulder problem in people older than 45 years of age. We call it “Impingement” of the shoulder muscles. It means that a muscle of the shoulder is being pinched.
Gugu: First explain to us how the shoulder works?
Dr Corne: Put your hand on top of the shoulder. The shoulder has a flat bone that covers it. Move your hand down a bit, and move the shoulder. Now you feel the ball of the shoulder. Between the flat bone and the ball is a muscle. This muscle move the arm.
Gugu: Why are the older people affected?
Dr Corne: After the age of 40 years, the body grows a sharp bony ridge underneath the flat bone. This sharp ridge then starts to rub against the muscles of the shoulder. The muscle will become very irritated, and swollen.
Gugu: How will someone know that there is a problem?
Dr Corne: In the beginning one will only feel pain in the middle of the arm, not in the shoulder itself. As the scratching and swelling becomes worse, one will have pain when sleeping on the shoulder, or putting on clothes when one lifts up the arm higher than the shoulder.
Gugu: Can young people also get shoulder problems?
Dr Corne: Yes, they do. But young people get other types of shoulder problems. We will be discussing this in the coming weeks.
Gugu: What should a person do if they think that the muscle is being pinched like that?
Dr Corne: It is very important to go to a doctor to have it checked out. If this rubbing and scratching is not stopped the muscle can tear and cause big problems. It is best to also get a sonar to see how badly the muscles are scratched.
Gugu: What will the doctor do to help?
Dr Corne: The treatment must stop the swelling of the muscle. Once the swelling goes down there might be enough space for the muscle. The swelling is reduced with the use of medication and an injection into the shoulder. It is also important to see the physiotherapist for very specific and gentle exercises.
Gugu: If you have been visiting the doctor and the physiotherapist and the problem is not getting better, why is that? And what is the next step?
Dr Corne: If the space between the joint and the roof is too small, the problem will not resolve without having to remove the bony ridge under the roof of the shoulder. We do this by surgery.
Gugu: Does this mean you cut open the shoulder Dr Corne!
Dr Corne: No Gugu, we can do the operation through 2 very small cuts, of about 1 cm each. We use a camera and long thin instruments to work inside the shoulder and underneath the roof. That way we remove the bony ridge without disturbing the body too much. Its called an arthroscopy.
I can even take photos and a video and show it too you afterwards! You can post it on Facebook or You Tube for your friends to see.
Gugu: What happens if the muscle is scratched so much, that the muscle tears?
Dr Corne: We can fix the muscle if it is torn. But one must not wait too long. If you wait too long it might not be possible to repair it any more. And this is why it is so important that people know about this shoulder problem.
Gugu: Now I am worried. How will one know if the muscle is torn?
Dr Corne: You will not be able to pick up the arm higher than your chest, or put on the jersey or t-shirt like you would normally.
Gugu: Thank you for telling us about this problem of the pinched muscles. Where can people get more information if they are worried that they might have this problem?
Dr Corne: You can visit my website at www.drcorne.co.za. On the website you will be able to see all the other problems of the shoulder.
Listeners can also visit the Facebook Page at Dr Corne Ackermann, if they want to ask me any questions. I am also on Twitter; @dr_corne.
Gugu: Thanks Dr Corne. Our listeners are welcome to contact Dr Corne on Social Media if you have more questions.