Rotator Cuff

Your Guide to Rotator Cuff Injury Recovery

There is a very serious concern among the people suffering from injured rotator cuffs that the injury can heal without a surgery. Unfortunately, according to the statistics released by leading orthopedic sources, 57% of such surgical procedures fail. Whereas, non-surgical therapies have a success rate of around fifty percent. Statistically speaking, it is advisable to try a non-surgical therapy should be your first option.

The blue print of a rotator cuff injury

Injuries related to rotator cuff are common due to extensive use of four muscles involved in every shoulder related movement. Anatomically speaking, rotator cuff is formed by a group of muscles covering the shoulder blade in the form of tendons. The arm bone is topped by these muscles upon its entry at the point of shoulder socket. The rotator cuff keeps the arm bone ball firmly in place in the shoulder socket.

It is the lifting action that is most painful in case of cuff injury. This is experienced since the tissue is compressed by the bones in socket joint and ball. This condition is commonly known as Bursitis. This condition is more pronounced in elder people where anatomical degradation is more. This wearing of tendons can be compared with the tearing of a rope when it is consistently rubbed against a sharp-edged surface. Some of the major symptoms include:

  • Serious pain when attempting to reach backwards or upwards.
  • Dull pain during the sleep hours
  • Established and persistent pain in arm length and shoulder

What option do you have when surgery is not a preference?

Usually, physicians would recommend physiotherapy as the first option. Interestingly, a patient can do a lot in this case that can help in recovery.

The best action is to rest the rotator cuff by avoiding overhead movement of arm. This can be further aided by using compression wear devices to support the rotator cuff and shoulder in general. Many such (sleeve or sling) devices incorporate ice or heat treatments so fend off inflammation and help in reducing pain. Ibuprofen and Naproxen are just some of the non-prescription drugs to help manage pain and fight inflammation.

One of the most critical factors is to maintain injured shoulder flexibility and strength. Exercising is mandatory in such scenario, but it should be undertaken as advised by your doctor.

Some useful exercises to maintain shoulder flexibility.

Stretch out to maintain your crossover reach

  • Raise the injured arm to the level of your chest and reach across. This can be done in sitting or standing position
  • Hold your elbow with your opposite hand and gently press it for thirty seconds
  • Repeat the same process on the other shoulder

Stretch with the clasped back hand

  • Lower your arms and clasp your hands at the back
  • Lift your hands upwards and hold for 30 seconds without causing pain.
  • Release your hands and repeat the process after 10 seconds interval

Exercises to increase shoulder strength

It must be remembered that weight training should never be painful for strength building. When using pendulum swings, rest your forearm on a table or support with your back parallel to the floor. Hang the dumbbell in your other hand while hanging it down straight. Swing the dumbbell in horizontal condition for the 30 seconds.

What you should achieve from the Rotator cuff therapy?

Ideally, all non-surgical treatment options are aimed at reducing pain, injury healing and preserving complete shoulder operation.

By moderately restricting the shoulder movement through movement limitation and compression wear, accelerated healing is achieved. Heat, ice and painkiller medication help in pain management. Exercising will help in keeping your muscles from constriction during the healing phase.

Ironically, it is not only the professional athletes who suffer from rotator cuff injuries. Such injuries can happen to ordinary people as a result of ageing or during the usual daily routine. Such injuries can result in years of exposure to pain. It is also possible to experience recurrence of injury after healing. It is paramount to adapt your lifestyle to avoid such injuries when you are exposed to it once. In fact, it is better to prevent such injuries by being proactive in injury prevention through recommended rotator cuff exercises beforehand.

It must be remembered that rotator cuff injuries take long time to heal. Don’t get frustrated and follow the medical advice religiously. Always consult quality medical experts when you opt for non-surgical therapies.