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Old October 20, 2012, 10:51 AM   #1
FLChinook
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Can rifle recoil damage a rotator cuff???

Any ortho docs out there? This is really a wild question...

I had a tear in my right rotator cuff about 10 years ago; it was repaired and has been fine since (btw, the initial tear came using a stump grinder ). Recently, I think I re-damaged it doing something stupid (please don't ask...) and it's been sore but responded to ice and anti-inflamatories.

Yesterday, I was at the range and shot about 24 .300 Win Mags with a modest but not uncomfortable recoil. I've experienced that recoil LOTS of times... Within a few hours, my arm felt terrible; exactly like when my rotator cuff was torn.

Obviously, if this persists, I need to get professional input, MRI, etc, etc, etc. But I'm just curious, is it even possible for a rifle recoil to damage a rotator cuff? Any similar experience out there? I seriously doubt it but after my experience...
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Old October 20, 2012, 11:07 AM   #2
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The 300 mag isn't strong enough to do it but you said you had damaged it again recently so the 300 could have made it worse. Best get it checked out.
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Old October 20, 2012, 12:00 PM   #3
FLChinook
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It seems to me (structural engineer) to be a question of mechanics as well as load. If the rifle butt is closer to the body (where I like to keep it) and not out on the upper arm itself, I don't see how even a series of hard shocks could hurt the rotator cuff. Here's where some knowledge of muscle and tendon placement would be helpful.

If rotator cuffs are at risk from rifle shooting, lots of us will have to re-think...
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Old October 20, 2012, 12:01 PM   #4
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I hope for a lot of good replies since I have been thinking about the same question off and on for a while.
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Old October 20, 2012, 12:43 PM   #5
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if it's not torn before you won't hurt it but if it is already damaged it will hurt like the dickens, ask how I know. Took two years after surgery before I could shoot my 10 gauge or 300 Wby again. Now my left side is bad and that has stopped my left handed rifle and pistol shooting and I hate that.
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Old October 20, 2012, 11:39 PM   #6
insomni
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the simple answer is yes it can. . . hurt it

I can't tell you what's going on with your shoulder, because I can't examine you from here, and even if I could, an MRI is needed for an MD to give you the definitive diagnosis, but I can tell you a bit about sports/shoulder injuries.

As you probably have had explained to you, your shoulder is a pretty flimsy joint when compared to say your hip or your knee. The socket is relatively shallow, and the only thing it has for stability and strength is the surrounding muscles and tendons. The joint is the strongest when all of the surrounding muscles are equally strong and developed. A tear, or focusing only on chest and neglecting your back in the gym can throw this balance out of whack.

As far as a rifle goes, I imagine the actual damage was mostly done during your reinjury.... whatever that event may have been, and not so muchby the rifle. You started the right path with the NSAIDs and ice, and I'd assume some compression and rest thrown in there. I think that if you didn't rip it again, you at least aggravated it. You definitely are at least aggravating it with rifle fire. If your treatment didn't include a long enough break from physical shock and activity, the tendons will still be inflamed. That will be excruciatingly painful, and sharp hammering blows like recoil are only going to make it hurt worse. The shock of the rifle recoil (normal rifle calibers here, gents, not those anti-tank rifles some of y'all have squirreled away) most likely wasn't enough to rip it, unless it was the straw that broke the camel's back.... which is still possible

Which tendon(s) did you rip in your initial injury?
Did they fix it with physical therapy or surgery?
How long ago did you re-injure it?
How long did you self-treat for?
And how much other activity and strain have you put on it since?
Is there a specific position that alleviates the pain?
Is there a position that worsens the pain?
Are you noticing a visible shift of your injured shoulder in any direction while seated?
Are you having trouble with your range of motion, or noticing a click or pop at any specific point in that ROM?

I'd say head on over to the doc, and get it checked out. Remember, tendons are avascular and will take a long time to heal. I've been guilty of it with running injuries in particular; but don't jump back into things at the point of no more pain. Let the injury heal further for a few weeks after the pain goes away to ensure it is healed correctly.

Last edited by insomni; October 22, 2012 at 09:33 AM.
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Old October 21, 2012, 07:02 AM   #7
rebs
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I had a severe rotor cuff tear 6 years ago, it was a complete tear with retraction. I went to 5 different specialist in rotor cuff surgery and not one would recommend surgery as it was a complete tear off with retraction. It is now 6 years later and I can raise my arm above my head, It is still a problem shaving and brushing my hair or anything about that height. As far as shooting, I can shoot my AR just fine and a 243 cal and thats about as much as I can do in rifles. As for pistols I can shoot my 22, 357 mag and 1911, however I cannot shoot them with only my right hand as there is not enough strength to hold them straight our at shoulder height. I have to use both hands.
IMHO the rotor cuff injury is not to be taken lightly, go to the doc and get another MRI. You could injure it for life.
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Old October 21, 2012, 02:29 PM   #8
FLChinook
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Quote:
Which tendon(s) did you rip in your initial injury?
Did they fix it with physical therapy or surgery?
How long ago did you re-injure it?
How long did you self-treat for?
And how much other activity and strain have you put on it since?
Is there a specific position that alleviates the pain?
Is there a position that worsens the pain?
Are you noticing a visible shift of your injured shoulder in any direction while seated?
Are you having trouble with your range of motion, or noticing a click or pop at any specific point in that ROM?
Trust me, I do not take shoulder injuries lightly. My left rotator cuff has had three tears and has been repaired by surgery three times. The first tear came about 12 years ago from mis-using a stump grinder; the 2nd was needed when therapy from the 1st surgery was too aggressive and the tear recurred. That lasted until last year when another tear occurred (don't know why or how) and a more difficult surgical repair was made (I'm told the probability for success for each subsequent rotator cuff repair gets less and less...).

My right RC was torn at the same time as the left and successfully repaired at that time. Since my left repair last year, I must admit to favoring the right to protect the left. That may have aggravated the issue. Anyway, I injured the right shoulder 2 weeks ago but have not had it checked. Hopefully, it's just an inflammation; in which case, the application of ice, anti-inflamatories and rest will get it better.

The reason for this thread is I was shooting my 300 Win Mag last weekend and the arm seemed much worse afterward (duh!!). But Opening Day is coming .

I now believe the RC is not torn as I can lift the arm higher and higher each day without pain (almost to my shoulder now) and that would not be happening with a tear.

Points I believe from this thread:

1. Shooting a rifle WITH a RC tear is likely to make the tear worse. Stress concentrations at the end of any tear can be large (stress concentrations are absent in an intact and uniformly loaded fabric).
2. Shooting a rifle with an inflamed shoulder but WITHOUT a RC tear may make the arm more sore but shouldn't create a RC tear (unless there is a weak point and a tear is immanent anyway).
3. When in doubt, check with a good doctor. RC tear repairs are amongst the most painful of all surgeries to recover and rehab from.
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Old October 21, 2012, 06:49 PM   #9
dorc-1
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Just buy some cuff links and it will solve your problem.
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Old October 22, 2012, 08:56 AM   #10
Rifleman1776
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Backing the doc. Yes, it can damage.
I have torn the rotator in both shoulders. On first (right) I tried to tough it out. Mistake. Waited too long and now can't be repaired. Now have limited strength.
When left tore I got surgery. But the physical therapist messed me up again. I declined more surgery and now have limited strength there.
Some therapists do not understand that older folks need more time to heal. Get it check by an ortho guy pronto. And recover at your own rate of comfort.
Not arguing whith the doc, but I theorize that resistance is more damaging to an already damaged muscle than recoil, within limits of course.
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Old October 22, 2012, 04:04 PM   #11
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I dislocated both shoulders, among other things, when my Hummer impacted the road after an explosion....

Now I do every thing I can to mitigate recoil, heavy barrel, mercury insert, shoulder pad, muzzle brake etc....
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Old October 22, 2012, 05:31 PM   #12
TPAW
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Have an MRI done to see the extent of the damage. A previously repaired cuff is vulnerable to re-injury. And yes, recoil can create a new tear or damage an old one.
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Old October 23, 2012, 07:11 PM   #13
insomni
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300winmag? Yah, that's quite a bit of a punch in the shoulder right there. I'd at least rest that shoulder for a while. Certainly follow this up with a visit to the doctor to be properly checked out.

Hopefully it's just inflamed.

good luck
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Old October 24, 2012, 09:02 PM   #14
barnbwt
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Have you not seen the Youtube videos of guys getting knocked over by powerful rifles (usually because they hadn't been told to expect it)? There's a particularly funny montage of some foriegn guys (Arab?) getting bashed around at some indoor range (someone else link it up again, I'm too lazy...)

Anyway, you're not firing a Nitro Express, but a smaller-scale impulse is rattling through your bones and cartilage, and is ultimately absorbed by your tendons. A punch to the shoulder can harm you, it stands to reason a rifle might. Take a few weeks off shooting, and get checked out by a Doc. Some physical therapy before shooting big-bores again might also be a good idea if you're prone to reinjury

I have short capsules in both shoulders and dislocated them about a dozen times before strengthening my stabilizer muscles up through therapy. I've had no issues for over two years, now, but to this day I have to be really careful to keep my shoulder tight when reaching behind my head.

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Old November 2, 2012, 09:19 AM   #15
Picher
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A .270 Win with a soft recoil pad, shooting 130 grain Barnes TSX, Hornady GMX, Nosler Partitions or other reasonably tough, but expanding bullets at reasonable velocities should kill about anything you might encounter in the lower 48, but shouldn't kill your shoulder.

Wearing a PAST pad under your hunting coat would also help. Just don't shoot more hunting rounds than necessary from the bench and NONE prone, or leaning back against a tree!!!
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Old November 3, 2012, 06:54 AM   #16
Ben Towe
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Funny that this thread is here. My shoulder has been aggravating me some for awhile and after a short range session (12 shots) with the .338 yesterday it was somewhat inflamed even though I had the rifle in a sled.
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Old November 3, 2012, 09:11 AM   #17
Carne Frio
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I am a retired MRI tech who shoots. I have a bad shoulder
and use a Lead Sled when putting a lot of rounds through a
high powered rifle. Don't know if shooting can cause a tear
of the rotator cuff. Get yourself diagnosed; shoulder tears
don't heal themselves.
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Old November 4, 2012, 11:42 PM   #18
340 Weatherby
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Find some other sucker that you trust to resight your rifle. 24 shots from a 300 can be plenty. Have them shoot it in and then you fire a couple just to confirm zero. Then one shot on opening morning!
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