Rotator Cuff Treatment
What is Rotator Cuff?
The rotator cuff is a part of the shoulder along with the group of muscles and tendons. These surround the shoulder joint, thus, providing stability and strength. Above the rotator cuff, there is a sac of tissue called the bursa. This bursa covers and protects the rotator cuff whenever it comes in close contact with the bones around your shoulder. Just like every other part of your body, the rotator cuff can also be injured in one way or another.
Now that you’re aware of what exactly is a rotator cuff, let’s see what injuries it can suffer and how that can severely affect your functionality and cause several degrees of pain.
What are the injuries?
Regardless of age, any individual can suffer from Rotator cuff injuries. However, the incidence of injury increases with age. Rotator cuff injury can happen over time and get worse because in certain cases it can be asymptomatic.
The most common injuries to the rotator cuff are:
The subacromial space is located near the front and top of the shoulder. Tendons are the most common structures that get pinched along with the subacromial bursa and long head biceps.
Posterior impingement is similar to subacromial impingement. Here too the structures get pinched in a small space. However, this injury occurs on the infraspinatus tendons.
Wear and tear
Degeneration of the rotator cuff tendons is often caused by sports, age, overuse, instability, and repetitive strains. The result of this is weakness and even more instability.
Strains, partial thickness tears, full-thickness tears
You may experience these injuries when the muscles are overly stretched under load, or from continuous strain. Strains only affect a portion of the muscle while partial-thickness tears are ruptures in part of the muscle, and full-thickness tears are ruptures of the whole muscle.
When any of the rotator cuff’s tendons get inflamed or irritated then it is Tendinitis.
In most cases, the subacromial bursa region is affected. Bursitis is when the bursa experiences inflammation.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms can be related to everyday activities and may aggravate in certain positions.
Injuries associated with the rotator cuff do not always have to be about pain or function loss. Rotator cuff injuries can be either asymptomatic or symptomatic. Although it is not uncommon for asymptomatic patients to develop symptoms promptly. If the patient begins to show symptoms it can range from serious to mild pain, along with the limitation of function.
- Painful range of motion
- Functional impairments ie: difficulty in pushing, lifting, overhead movements with the hand behind the back.
- Painful arch, above the shoulder.
- Muscle weakness in the shoulder joint.
- Painful internal/external rotation.
All these symptoms are mostly the result of a dysfunctional rotator cuff.
How is Rotator Cuff Pathology Diagnosed?
Physical examination and subjective history are the most used methods to diagnose rotator cuff injuries. The therapist combines both of these methods to evaluate your case and learn more about the injury. Other diagnostic techniques such as observation, and palpation are also commonly used by therapists to assess the case.
Active and passive range of motion also is used by the therapist as it gives them an exact idea of what is wrong with your rotator cuff. Moreover, if required special tests lay emphasis on a certain structure of the rotator cuff that the therapist thinks is injured. If required you may also have to go through X-Rays or MRIs.
What are the treatment options?
Only some of the worst cases require a surgical approach, mild issues can be treated in a much simpler way such as physical therapy. Mobility and strength of shoulder muscles can be improved by undergoing physiotherapy. Moreover, modification in everyday activity as well as learning how to use the shoulder in a safer, comfortable way possible.
Anti-inflammatory injections and pain relief medicines can be used if needed to decrease pain and inflammation, thus positively affecting recovery.
Suffering from a rotator cuff injury? Or know someone who might be in need of help with their rotator cuff shoulder? Innova Physio & Sports Rehab is right there to assist you. Book an appointment today and get started with your diagnosis!