Recovering From A Rotator Cuff Injury

Your rotator cuff is a group of important muscles and tendons that stabilize your shoulder. They also aid in movement; every time you move your arms and shoulders, your rotator is hard at work making the movement nearly effortless.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
Unfortunately, this area of the body is prone to injury, particularly if you play sports.
Injuries can range from mild to moderate to severe, and they generally fall into three categories:

1. Tendinitis
Tendinitis is an injury caused by repeated or stressful overuse of the shoulder. Inflammation leads to weakness, which breaks down the muscle fibers and makes them susceptible to injury. Tennis players, painters, and construction workers are prone to developing tendinitis due to the repetitive nature of their work.

2. Bursitis
Bursitis is caused by inflammation of the bursa, the fluid-filled pockets that provide a cushion between the tendons and bone in this area.

3. Strains and tears
These injuries occur through acute use or injury to the area. Tendons that run along muscle in this area of the body can stretch, tear, or even snap completely. Severe injuries of this nature often cause acute and immediate pain; there will be no doubt that an injury occurred.

Symptoms of rotator cuff injuries
Not all rotator cuff injuries are indicated by pain; some are the result of degenerative conditions that occur gradually over time. It could be months or even years in these cases before symptoms start to appear.

Rotator cuff injury symptoms include:

  • avoidance of certain activities due to pain
  • difficulty achieving full range of motion
  • difficulty sleeping due to pain
  • pain or tenderness when extending the arm
  • pain in the shoulders and upper back
  • progressive weakness in the shoulder
  • trouble reaching behind your back

If you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms for more than a few weeks, it is best to make an appointment so your doctor can evaluate your shoulder.

Who is at risk?
While anyone can sustain a rotator cuff injury, there are two main types of injuries that develop, each affecting different populations.

Acute injuries are the ones that happen suddenly due to improper lifting or excessive activity. Lifting objects that are too heavy, falling, or having the shoulder forced into an awkward position are all common reasons that an acute injury develops.

Degenerative injuries occur due to long term overuse and abuse. People that are at risk for degenerative development include athletes, people whose job requires heavy lifting or lifting arms above the head for extended periods of time, and those that are over 40 years of age.

Diagnosis
Your doctor will use your medical history, a physical examination, and scans to determine the cause of your injury and the severity of your condition. They will ask you questions about your work and your level of physical activity which may have contributed to your condition. He will test your range of motion and determine whether other factors are in play such as arthritis and pinched nerves; depending on what is found, he may order MRI or other imaging scans to examine tendons, soft tissues, and physical anatomy of the area to determine the cause of your pain. Obtaining a proper diagnosis will be essential in being able to treat your shoulder properly and restore you to health.

Treatment
Depending on the severity of your condition, treatment can range from resting your arm to surgery. Seeking treatment as soon as possible once you suspect an injury will be the key to restoring your shoulder to health quickly and efficiently.

Nonsurgical treatment is effective for about half of all rotator cuff injuries. Types of therapies used in treatment include:

  • application of hot and cold packs to reduce swelling
  • physical therapy to restore strength and range of motion
  • cortisone injections to reduce inflammation
  • resting, limiting physical activity and wearing a sling
  • taking over-the-counter medications to reduce inflammation
  • the use of orthopedic stem cell therapy to strengthen and rejuvenate tissue

Moving forward: Prevention is key
If you are prone to rotator cuff inflammation due to physical activity or your work, it is essential that you take proper precautions to avoid repetitive injuries. If you are an athlete or you work with your upper body frequently, take rest breaks, and perform a range of motion activities that help to soothe and stretch this area. Perform exercises that strengthen this area of the body, and ask your doctor if there is supplementation that you can take to encourage healthy joint function.

Integrative Spine And Sports Miami: Restoring You To Health
If you feel that you may have sustained a rotator cuff injury, it is important that you seek treatment to reduce symptoms and prevent further injury from occurring. Integrative Spine And Sports Miami is a team of talented professionals that can diagnose, treat, and prevent all types of spine and sports injuries; make an appointment today to evaluate your condition and receive proper care for total health. Contact us today for more information—we want you to experience vibrant health and well being once more!

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