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What is a rotator cuff injury?

The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder joint. A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder that worsens over time. These injuries are common and their probability increases with age.

The goal of treating a rotator cuff tear is not, necessarily, to heal the torn tendon, but to achieve pain relief and improved strength by relieving inflammation and improving joint mechanics. This can be accomplished with physical therapy and addressing inflammation of the site.

Types of Injuries

The two common types of shoulder injuries can be divided into two main categories: sudden injuries and injuries from overuse. 

  • Sudden or acute injuries happen as a result of moving your shoulder awkwardly to twisting it unnaturally. While they can be painful, sometimes they can go away on their own after applying a light massage or ointment. You may feel a tingling or numbness if the shoulder injury causes a pinched nerve or blood vessel. Common examples of these include bruises, injured tendons, injured nerves, dislocation, or strained muscles to name a few. 
  • Overuse injuries can cause more serious chronic shoulder pain because they can develop as a result of everyday activities. The shoulder joint can face a lot of stress and pressure that often goes under the radar. Injuries in this category can include tendonitis, muscle strain, and frozen shoulder – just to name a few. The latter is especially serious because it happens when overhead arm movements force the shoulder’s tendons to rub against a part of the shoulder blade, leading to inflamed tendons in the rotator cuff.  

Those are just some of the causes of chronic shoulder pain that can affect almost anyone at any stage in their life. Luckily, advanced physiotherapy techniques and technology have reliably demonstrated results in reducing a patient’s overall shoulder pain. 

Treatments
If you suspect that you have suffered a tear, it is best to get a formal diagnosis. A qualified physician can properly diagnose your injury, address any concerns related to it, and advise you on the best course of action. Typically if the injury isn’t too severe, physical therapy is the most direct starting point toward recovery. A physical therapist will be able to field all of your questions, as well as ask questions about your life and how you typically use your arm to decide the best course of action to address your particular case. 

Physical therapy is an effective option for many people who do not need surgical intervention or otherwise cannot have surgery. Studies have shown that proper physical therapy treatment with a professional for a rotator cuff tear can be as effective for people as surgery, with both having near the same recovery and regained range of motion, and more.

At PremierCare, we aim to help you regain your range of motion and learn how to properly exercise in order to best strengthen your shoulder muscles. Our physiotherapists can offer a range of pointers and advice, such as finding a way to sleep without agitating your injury, sitting and standing posture that can reduce discomfort, and finding ways to perform everyday activities without hurting yourself or bringing the pain back during the recovery period.