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Rotator Cuff

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Rotator Cuff Injuries, treatments and how a Chiropractor can Help

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that work together to keep the shoulder joint stable and to help with overall movement. The four muscles of the rotator cuff form one large tendon known as the rotator cuff tendon. This tendon is attached to the humerus (the top of the arm bone) and passes underneath the scapula through the subacromial space.

Rotator cuff injuries happen to all sorts of people from all kinds of professions and can sometimes accompany other problems such as elbow or wrist pain. Most commonly, one will find that rotator cuff injuries are more common in people that have a wide range of movement using their shoulders on a frequent basis. These can include baseball players, painters, tennis players etc. but rotator cuff injuries can also occur during regular normal exercise. Damage also appears to be more likely with increased age. Recovery involves the use of physical therapy where the therapist will have the patient work through a variety of exercises designed to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles. More severe injuries however can require surgical intervention.

man holding rotator cuff in pain

What Is A Rotator Cuff Injury?

Rotator cuff injuries and inflammation are among the most common causes of shoulder pain. The three most common conditions that influence and affect the rotator cuff are:

  • Rotator cuff tendonitis
  • Rotator cuff impingement syndrome
  • Rotator cuff tears

Most cases of rotator cuff issues can be treated with a combination of rest, pain relief medication, anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy. In more extreme cases surgery is required to repair torn rotator cuffs.

What Are The Symptoms of A Rotator Cuff Injury?

Some of the symptoms that can indicate rotator cuff injuries include:

  • Aches or pains deep within the shoulder
  • Stiffness in the shoulder
  • Difficulty in reaching behind the back or combing/brushing hair
  • An unexplained loss of strength on the affected side
  • A “clicking” sound when moving the arm in specific directions

How Do You Treat A Rotator Cuff Injury?

Many times, to treat a rotator cuff injury, there is only the need for simple rest and relaxation as well as ice treatments. Many rotator cuff injuries are not severe enough to warrant ongoing treatment from a medical or health professional but it is a good idea to see a medical or health professional so they can diagnose the problem you are experiencing.

Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage is very experienced working with rotator cuff problems and can recommend a course of treatment that can be performed at home to help relieve the pain and stress that accompanies this problem. We will educate you on how the problem occurred, how to treat it and what you should do to insure a fast recovery. This can help you understand the severity of the injury and how to avoid similar problems in the future. More severe rotator cuff injuries can require surgery to reattach completely or partially torn rotator cuff muscles.

If surgery is warranted this will involve possible removal of bone spurs which are areas where the bone has grown too much and the resulting growth irritates the rotator cuff muscle. Other surgical procedures can involve re-attaching torn tendons or even grafting tendons from other parts of the body to replace the damaged tendon if the damage is severe.

Some home remedies for treating minor rotator cuff injuries have shown to be effective in relieving pain and discomfort. The first thing to do is to rest your shoulder and avoid stressful activity that may aggravate the problem. Avoid lifting heavy objects and try not to raise your arms above your head. Sudden shoulder movements should also be avoided while you are trying to recover.

For the short term, after the initial onset of the injury, cold packs or ice packs can be used to help reduce inflammation and pain. This is necessary for about 20 minutes every three to four hours for the first few days. Heat packs can then be used to help ease tension and loosen and relax tight or sore muscles. It is also a good idea to consider using over the counter medication such as Tylenol or Advil as these are effective anti-inflammatory medications that will also help to further reduce pain and discomfort. It is a good idea to contact Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage before proceeding with any of the above.

When Is Rotator Cuff Surgery Necessary?

Surgery is recommended only when non surgical treatments fail to deliver acceptable results in the expected time frame. Alternative non-surgical options may be offered until the right course of action is discovered but sometimes non-surgical options fail to solve the problem. Some rotator cuff injuries symptoms for those that need surgery include persistent nighttime pain and continued difficulty in lifting or rotating their arm.

Many will report continuing symptoms despite a long duration of medical or medical health treatment and a reduction in the overall mobility of the affected arm. Surgery is also necessary for patients who use their arm for their active lifestyles or even for their profession. Pitchers, construction workers, swimmers, painters and tennis players are common examples.

What Are The Rehabilitation Steps For Rotator Cuff Injuries?

Rehabilitation is very important for both the nonsurgical and surgical treatment of a rotator cuff tear. When the rotator cuff is torn, the muscles around the rotator cuff, upper arm and the shoulder, can become weak or “atrophied” due to a reduction in use. A therapy program designed by a Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, massage specialist can help regain strength and shoulder function to a normal level. Surgery can repair the rotator cuff injury but the weak muscles need to be given proper attention to insure the surgery can be considered a long term success. Total rehabilitation after surgery due to rotator cuff injuries may take several months and massage therapy is among the treatments recommended for most patients.

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