What Is a Rotator Cuff Injury?

The Rotator Cuff is located near the shoulder joint and is a group of muscles and tendons that keeps the head of the upper arm bone within the socket of the shoulder. Any injury to the rotator cuff can cause sharp, dull, recurring, and shooting pain in the shoulder that is sensitive to touch and movement.

Rotator cuff injuries are quite common with age and overuse or even exhaustion. This also usually occurs in various occupations like painters and carpenters that have jobs that require repeatedly performing overhead motions. Rotator cuff injuries may sometimes happen because of a sudden movement of injury. The best way to start your journey towards recovery is to get physiotherapy for the rotator cuff and try out some stretches and exercises for rotator cuff tears. 

In cases of serious injuries and pain, medical intervention is necessary and should be provided as soon as possible, lest there be any need for surgery.

Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury

Before you consider physiotherapy for a rotator cuff injury, these symptoms are important to identify before you decide on a course of treatment. Here’s what you should look if you think you have a rotator cuff injury- 

  • While sleeping, a dull ache or pain may arise in your shoulder. 
  • Due to frequent bouts of pain and severity, your sleep gets disturbed. 
  • You find the range of motion and functionality of your arm to be limited – this injury may prevent you from doing normal daily tasks such as scratching your back or combing your hair. 
  • Your arm feels weak, it is sensitive to touch and movement , especially in the area around the rotator cuff.

Also Read: Massage Techniques for Frozen Shoulder: Why is it good for you?

What Are the Causes of Rotator Cuff Injury? 

The causes of rotator cuff injuries depend from person to person and the severity of such injuries. Your treatment plan, as a result, is dependent on the cause as your clinical history can effectively point out the causes of rotator cuff tears accurately.

Here are the various causes of this injury:

  • Age – Age is a common denominator when it comes to bone and muscle injuries. With age, as your muscles, joints, and ligaments get looser and weaker- you are more prone to injuries and the common consequences of wear and tear. This is the reason why rotator cuff tears are so common in the population above 60 years. 
  • Occupation Related – Rotator Cuff Injuries can also be a consequence of job-related stress and we can see these tears very commonly among construction workers, painters, and carpenters who have a lot of repetitive overhead arm motions which leads to overuse and exhaustion of the rotator cuff leading to rotator cuff tears. 
  • Family History – Your genetic history can also provide a rich source of information regarding your rotator cuff tears as there may be a genetic component involved with your rotator cuff injury that can be seen as a common pattern in some families.

How Can Rotator Cuff Injuries Be Diagnosed?

Rotator Cuff tears are usually diagnosed during a physical exam with your doctor. Your doctor will first examine your injured area, press your shoulder in different parts and ask you to move your arm in different positions. They will also test the strength of the muscles in and around the entire length of your arm.

Based on the initial judgment, they will also prescribe additional imaging exams to pinpoint the cause of pain, these are:

  • X-rays – Sometimes an abnormal growth of bone spurs is a cause behind rotator cuff injuries and stress and X-rays can help diagnose that through imaging. 
  • Ultrasound – Using sound waves, this test helps accurately produce images of structures that are there within the body that accurately helps your doctor assess the shoulder as they move. It also helps you to differentiate between an affected and healthy shoulder. 
  • MRI – MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a great technology that uses radio waves and magnetic waves to get images that help display the structure of the shoulder very clearly which helps your doctor understand the cause of the injury.

Also Read: Chronic Shoulder Pain – Causes and Treatment

How Does Physiotherapy for Rotator Cuff Help You with Your Pain?

The usual treatment route for rotator cuff treatment is a conservative pain management approach as non-surgical treatment like physical therapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed for the patient, along with rest, hot and cold compress, and massage. In addition to this, Physiotherapists will also observe your correct movements and suggest corrective exercises for the same that help you deal with the pain in the long term. They provide ample information and suggestions regarding Stretches and Exercises for Rotator Cuff Tears, which provides a sustainable solution to your problem in the long run. 

  • Physiotherapy for Rotator Cuff Injuries set out to fulfill some important goals like reducing pain and muscular tension in the neck and scapular area to help bring back your original mobility. 
  • Physiotherapy works on correcting your body’s movement and postures that aggravate such injuries and in the case of rotator cuff tears, your physiotherapist will recommend exercises to improve the humeral head position to restore mobility in your rotator cuff. 
  • Your physiotherapist works in conjunction with you to help you to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder. What this does is that- it stabilizes the muscles around the shoulder and the intact rotator cuff muscles to help prevent the recurrence of the injury. 
  • Rotator cuff tears also take place due to the rotator due to sports and occupation-related injuries. Your physiotherapist will guide you and recommend movements that reduce overload and help in total arm rehabilitation. 
  • As Phythealth provides online physiotherapy services, you can get instant consultations with an expert on what course of treatment to take. For rotator cuff tears, your physiotherapist will also focus on strengthening your elbow, wrists, and shoulder if you have an injury as this will help support your rotator cuff.

Phyt Health is India’s first digital physiotherapy platform that uses 3D imaging and Artificial Intelligence to correctly diagnose your pain points and recommend corrective exercises to help relieve pain in the short pain and also provide corrective exercises in the long term to better equip you with pain management techniques like a rotator cuff injury.
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