Rotator Cuff Injuries

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The rotator cuff of the shoulder is named after a group of four muscles (supraspinatous, infraspinatous, teres minor, subscapularis) that surround the shoulder joint providing stability for any arm movement, including everyday or high intensity arm activity.

Risk of rotator cuff tears increase with aging, chronic poor shoulder posture, over head activities, and improper scapular motion.  Some individuals will also have certain bone structure in the shoulder that will predispose them to rotator cuff injuries.

The most common site of tearing is the supraspinatous muscle (in the front of the shoulder).  Depending on the severity and number of tears found, surgical repair may be recommended, but sometimes pain from a rotator cuff tear or strain can be completely managed by non-surgical measures with Physical Therapy.

Common symptoms include:

◊ Pain with reaching for objects

◊ Reaching over your head

◊ Pain after completing household chores

◊ Shoulder joint stiffness or tenderness

◊ Pain with laying on shoulder at night

How can Physical Therapy Help?

Your Physical Therapist will assess your current shoulder range of motion, shoulder and arm strength, scapular mobility, and pain to design an optimal program tailored for your needs and goals for activity. Physical Therapy interventions include specific strengthening/stretching exercises of the shoulder, biomechanical analysis of posture to improve shoulder stabilization, instruction for safe lifting techniques and reducing risk of re-injury of the rotator cuff, and pain management techniques.

Physical Therapy is appropriate if you’re trying to avoid surgery, preparing for upcoming surgery, and/or after a surgical rotator cuff repair.

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