Rotator Cuff Therapy. First, What is a Rotator Cuff Injury?
Rotator cuff injuries are really a common shoulder condition often seen by physiotherapists. The rotator cuff is made up of a group of four main muscles that work together, and they are: the subscapularis, the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus and the teres minor) as well as their tendons. Collectively, they form the “rotator cuff” and it play a significant enough role as a joint stabilizer for your shoulder. Their tendons wrap around your shoulder joint, “holding” it in place by forming a “cuff” around the ball of your humeral bone.
What are the types of rotator cuff injury we can get?
There are several types of cuff injuries that one may get:Rotator cuff tendonitis: this happens when the tendons of the four muscles mentioned above becomes inflamed due to various reasons. As they become inflamed, they swell up and they can pinch other structures that make the shoulder joint.
Impingement syndrome: happens when a tendon of the muscle in the rotator cuff becomes impinged or squeezed Calcific rotator cuff tendonitis: what happens is in certain circumstances, sometimes calcium deposits get deposited in your rotator cuff tendons (especially if they have been inflamed for long periods of time), causing them to become hardened and “calcified”.
Bursitis: the bursa located below the acromion (called the subacromial bursa) can become inflamed for many reasons, leading to one of the rotator cuff injuries.
Rotator cuff tears : happens when one or more of the tendons or the muscles that make up the rotator cuff get torn (can be partial, can be complete rupture) due to traumatic injuries such as falls or road traffic accidents…but they can too be caused by micro-tears that occurs due to normal wear and tear over time.
Sometimes, the impingement syndrome contributes to this as well. If you have a rotator cuff injury but are unable to receive physiotherapy treatment, you can consider these rotator cuff therapy exercises created by Steve Kaiser who consolidated specific information and exercises for his shoulder injury.
So what causes these cuff injuries?
Our rotator cuff, being the shoulder, can be injured easily as it’s involved in almost every movement we do. Things like lifting or pulling weighted objects via wrong techniques or simply because they’re too heavy; a traumatic event such as a fall or landing on an outstretched hand; with age, we naturally wear and tear the rotator cuff; sports with repeated overhead movements with the arms such as swimming, baseball, basketball, cricket etc; jobs that require a lot of shoulder strain e.g. paint jobs, window cleaning etc.
What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury?
Normally, there will be pain, tenderness and ache in your shoulders. Sometimes, the pain can radiate down your hand, but the pain is especially so when you raise your shoulder and hand to the side or reaching overhand or pulling a heavy weight. Many of our patients report that they feel pain at night when they sleep on the affected shoulder, and sometimes they feel an ache, a throb in the shoulder.
Because of the pain, they are unable to move the shoulder through its full range and often feel that their shoulder is weak. Depending on the cause and severity of the rotator cuff injury, your pain may come as gradual (such as wear and tear pains or tendonitis pains) or you may get the sudden, acute pain which is common to tears.
Rotator cuff therapy - How physiotherapy treat a patient with rotator cuff injury
If one has sustained a complete rupture of the rotator cuff muscles or tendons, a corrective/reconstructive surgery is often required. Following injury with or without surgery, it is crucial to see a physiotherapist for physiotherapy treatment for rehabilitation of the shoulder. Sometimes if the injury is mild, the orthopedic surgeon may recommend no need for surgery and purely for conservative management with physiotherapy sessions, which usually involves graded flexibility, mobility and strengthening exercises.What physiotherapy modalities the physiotherapist may use includes:
For pain relief and accelerated healing: ultrasound therapy, sonophoresis therapy, electrical stimulation, heat therapy, TENS Graded rehabilitative stretching, mobilizing and strengthening exercises, Sports-specific rehabilitation and training.
If you have a rotator cuff injury but are unable to receive physiotherapy treatment, you can consider these rotator cuff therapy exercises created by Steve Kaiser who consolidated specific information and exercises for his shoulder injury.
Where to next?