A torn rotator cuff can happen for a variety of reasons. For some of us it will probably be as a result of wear and tear as we get past fifty. Although this is an injury that is most common in the older population, it can also be acquired through a fall or knock or can even be caused by a constantly repeated action such as throwing a ball . This is why it is sometimes called pitcher's shoulder.
Corrective surgery is usually restricted to the unfortunate few who have either managed to get a full thickness tear or who do not respond to conservative treatment.
So what is the best form of torn rotator cuff treatment?
Firstly rest! You need to let the muscle heal properly and if you carry on using it, either it will slow down the recovery process or the worst case scenario is that you will make the injury worse. Depending on which of the cuff muscles you have damaged different shoulder movements will be painful. The classic symptoms for a Supraspinatus tear for example are pain when reaching for anything or when lifting your arm above shoulder height, difficulty reaching behing you and trouble sleeping because the shoulder is so tender. If you continue to do the same movements that you find painful you are going to further damage the muscle which could result in a full thickness muscle tear that will definitely need surgery.
Secondly, you need to treat the inflammation and pain. This can be done with anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen or may even be treated with cortisone injections. Treating the inflammation will sometimes help with any pain or discomfort because a lot of shoulder pain is caused by swollen tendons getting trapped by other muscles and bone. Ultra sound is another option that can help with the inflammation and can also prompt healing.
Once the injury has started to settle down and movement has become easier it is time to start exercising the rotator cuff muscles to build up their strength. These exercises will be small exercises with little or no resistance. The rotator cuff muscles are small muscles that often suffer injury as a result of neglect. The majority of us are unaware of the importance of these muscles until we manage to injure them, but they are key to having a healthy shoulder, holding the arm into the socket as we lift and move.Just a small increase in the strength of the rotator cuff can have a huge affect on the overall strength of the shoulder.
Rotator cuff specific exercises are needed. Don't start working out with weights as this is likely to just work the major muscles of the shoulder and do nothing for the rotator cuff. Rotator cuff exercises will isolate these muscles and get them working again. You'll be surprised how quickly your shoulder joint will return to full health once you get these muscles back to full health.
But remember, rest and treat the inflammation before you start any rotator cuff exercises. If you need to modify how you work in order to rest your shoulder then do it. Working through a rotator cuff injury can only lead to further injury.
And finally. It is worth mentioning that self diagnosis of shoulder problems is not a good idea. Different injuries need different treatments and it's worth getting it right just to avoid further problems.
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Rotator Cuff Specific Exercises are the quickest way back to a healthy shoulder. I know because it worked for me. Check out the torn rotator cuff treatment that stopped me needing surgery.
Read my story here
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