Rotator Cuff Injuries
A rotator cuff is a group of muscles surrounding the shoulder. They are made up of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor muscles. While these muscles are small and not that powerful, they play a critical role in how the shoulder moves. Without your rotator cuff, you would not be able to lift your arm very far from your side. The job of the rotator cuff is to guide the direction of the humerus head down and spin so that it clears the bony shelf above the socket called the acromion. When the rotator cuff is weak, the head of the humerus rides up, slamming into the acromion above it.
The rotator cuff takes a lot of abuse over a lifetime, and tearing is very common as we age. Many factors can lead to injury to the rotator cuff, such as sports injuries, falls onto the shoulder or arm, repeat lifting or movements, poor posture, or heavy lifting in abnormal positions.
Rotator cuff tears can be minor, causing pain and inflammation, or major which can require surgery. With surgery, depending on a variety of factors such as the quality of the tissue, the extent of the tear, and other health factors, the recovery can take between 3-6 months. Physical therapy is a significant part of preparing for surgery and rehabilitating after surgery.
How physical therapy helps
Often, with small tears, physical therapy can dramatically reduce pain, improve function, and allow you to lead an active lifestyle without any problems. Our physical therapists will work with you to improve your shoulder range of motion, restore proper joint mobility, reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and improve the strength of your rotator cuff.
If surgery is needed, we work closely with your physician to follow his/her protocol on rehabilitation. The beginning of therapy focuses on reducing pain, education on protection of the surgery repair, and maintaining a certain range of motion. Over time, as your physician protocol allows, range of motion is increased, joint mobility is restored, and finally, very gentle strengthening is begun.
Towards the end of your physical therapy, further strengthening and complete range of motion will be attained for your shoulder. All of this is coordinated per the instructions of your physician, and we ensure thorough communication with your physician at all times. Call us today to learn more about how we help your rotator cuff perform better and relieve your shoulder pain.