Permissions will have no effect on CS4, it will, however, improve overall performance.
One issue is CS4 is an older version of the Adobe suite which came out when Tiger 10.4 was king.
Now it is Mountain Lion 10.8.2, could be some conflicts there.
My wife had to upgrade to CS 6 because CS4 was not working correctly in Lion.
Much the same issue you are having.
Usually that spinning beach-ball means the Finder is having difficulty locating space or finding components, all directory related.
Doing a SafeBoot will help for this and tell you if there is something else interfering, it turns off many extras.
To do a Safe Boot, restart and before the first chime press and hold the 'Shift' key.
Wait until you see the Apple logo and the spinning gear appear, then let go.
It can take as long as 20 minutes to load, so please be patient.
When the login screen appears it will say in red on the login window 'SafeBoot'.
Now login and give it a few more minutes to finish loading.
Try doing whatever it was it was giving you the problem. If it works then probably the problem is solved, so restart normally.
If the problem persists then restart normally also, other fixes will need to be done.
Another quick thing is a pram reset.
To do a PRAM reset, you need to restart your machine and hold down these 4 keys all together at the same time.
‘Option’, ‘Command (Cloverleaf or Apple)’, ‘R’ and 'P' all together at the same time.
Keep them down until you hear 4 startup chimes, this is the sound that your computer makes when it starts up, it is like a boonngg. The screen should also cycle from white to black and then back to white along with the chimes.
The sound should also get louder.
This resets all of the system buses on your computer, USB, FireWire, display, ethernet and your keyboard/mouse/trackpad.
This will correct many faults but not necessarily yours.
Last but by all means not least is Disk Warrior, this utility is one of the best for these kind of issues, it will help keep your hard drive working at its peak.I highly recommend it.
Other than that the only other suggestion I have is uninstalling and reinstalling CS4.
Hope that helps.