Rotator cuff problems come in all shapes and sizes. Anything from a mild sprain to a complete rotator cuff tear or an impinged shoulder, all of them are caused by problems with the rotator cuff to some extent and all of them will involve rotator cuff therapy exercises as part of the recovery process.
Most rotator cuff injuries can be sorted out without resorting to surgery. If you have managed to snap one of the tendons completely or have a severe shoulder impingement then you are almost certainly looking at surgery. Surprisingly, I managed to fix a pretty nasty shoulder impingement with rotator cuff therapy.
At the end of last year I tore my rotator cuff. Around a third of us will do this at some point in our lives. I managed to do it by lifting something that was too heavy. Felt a pop in my left shoulder and woke up the next day to shoulder pain and restricted movement that just got worse as the days passed.
I went to the doctor who diagnosed a rotator cuff problem and made an appointment for me to see a specialist. Being stubborn and somewhat pig headed I decided to carry on using my shoulder as normal, going against my doctor's advice. What I didn't know at the time was that each bout of pain I suffered as I moved was an indication that I was doing more damage.
I had an impinged shoulder which is where an inflamed tendon gets pinched against my shoulder blade, gradually fraying as I continued to use my shoulder as normal. Fortunately for me, the pain eventually got so bad that I had no choice but to rest my arm.
Because of the extra damage that I had managed to do, I was booked for surgery to shave away a piece of bone to free up the trapped tendon.
With ten weeks to wait until the operation date I started to research rotator cuffs on the internet and discovered just how lucky I had been. Had I continued to use my shoulder I could have snapped the tendon completely.
Having a second chance made me rest the arm properly this time. I took to wearing a sling during the day, stopped driving and avoided any movement that gave me any pain. At the same time I was treating the inflammation with anti-inflammatory drugs and gradually the pain subsided.
Once my arm had calmed down I was able to start some Pilates based exercises to gently get the shoulder moving again, starting with gentle stretches and moving on to strengthening exercises. Because these exercises focus on control and flexibility they avoid putting any great strain on the muscles.
Gradually over the following weeks I regained full movement in my shoulder and have now been able to cancel the planned operation. Even though my shoulder is now better I still do shoulder exercises every day just to make sure that I don't suffer another shoulder problem. After all prevention is definitely better than cure.
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