The one thing that all shoulder injuries have in common is that at some point you are going to have to exercise your injured shoulder to get it working properly again. Whether this is instead of an operation or after an operation can depend on how you treat your shoulder in the meantime.
I managed to tear my rotator cuff lifting some furniture that was too heavy which resulted in too much force being put on the tendons of my left shoulder. They tore. I know that because I heard them go. Just a quiet pop but straight away I knew that I had done something bad. This is called an acute tear. It comes about as the result of a sudden force. You can also get acute tears as the result of a knock or fall but the most common cause is sports, specifically sports where you are throwing which is why rotator cuff syndrome is sometimes called pitchers shoulder.
With an acute tear you need to immobilise your shoulder for a while to let it heal before you begin any king of shoulder rehab regime. Using a sling is a good idea but definitely try to avoid any action that causes pain or discomfort or you will end up making the injury worse probably needing corrective surgery. You also need to treat the inflammation using ice packs and anti-inflammatory drugs. If the pain carries on for more than two or three days see your doctor who may administer a steroid injection to quickly bring down inflammation. When the pain and inflammation have subsided you can start exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles. These will often be pilates or Yoga based as they focus on restoring control and flexibility as well as strength which is vital to avoid future problems.
A chronic tear on the other hand comes about through wear and tear. It usually occurs in the over forties as our posture changes but can also happen to anyone who works overhead a lot such as painters and decorators. A Chronic tear is caused by tendons getting rubbed against bone in our shoulder. It comes on gradually with you experiencing night pain in your shoulder and the pain gradually gets worse over time as the tendon gets more and more frayed. The shoulder graduall;y gets weaker and you will start to experience pain as you lift your arm. A tendon can snap completely if this condition is ignored but this is fairly uncommon simply because people tend to seek help because of the discomfort.
If you have a chronic tear you will again need to focus on reducing inflammation and managing the pain. Try avoiding any painful movements as this will help but in order to rehabilitate the shoulder you need to deal with the underlying cause. If this is age related, exercises to improve posture will help. Again Yoga and Pilates based exercises are good as they focus on control and flexibility and also tend to improve core strength which can directly affect your posture. Get your posture back to how it should be and healthy shoulders quickly follow.
My one main tip for getting your shoulder working again is rest. Do not ignore this advice like I did which is why I ended up in pain for six months and facing surgery.
However you have managed to injure your rotator cuff carrying on regardless will only make things worse. Resting your shoulder is not easy, especially if it is your dominant arm because you use your arms all the time and they are attached to yoru shoulder. Try to change the way in which you work to avoid any action that causes pain. Just simple things like moving things on your desk at work can make a big difference as can giving up driving for a few weeks. Not convenient but it will definitely help in the long run. Only when the inflammation and pain has subsided is it safe to start shoulder rehab exercises.
And once your shoulder is better, keep up the exercises and keep your shoulders strong.
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