Rotator cuff injury is a common shoulder pain seen by physiotherapist.
Rotator cuff is made up of a group of four muscles (the subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor) and their tendons. It plays a important role in keeping your shoulder joint stable. Tendons wrap around your shoulder joint, forming a cuff around the ball of your humerus.
Types of Rotator Cuff Injury
Rotator cuff tendonitis: if the tendons of your rotator cuff become inflamed The tendons can become pinched against one of the other structures that make up shoulder joint.
Impingement syndrome: when a rotator cuff tendon becomes trapped or squeezed
Calcific rotator cuff tendonitis: Calcium is sometimes deposited in your rotator cuff tendons if they are inflamed for a long period of time. The tendons become ‘calcified’.
Bursitis: subacromial bursa can become inflamed.
Rotator cuff tear : This is when one or more of the rotator cuff muscles and tendons become completely or partially torn. It may be a result of trauma, such as a fall, or due to tiny tears in the tendon caused by use and wear over time. It may also be caused by impingement syndrome.
What causes rotator cuff injuries?
– Lifint or pulling an object, either too heavy or wrong technique
– Injury or fall, causing to land on an outstretched hand
– Age: increased risk of rotator cuff injuries as wear and tear with age
– Sports with repetitive overhead motions with arms: swimming, weight lifting, playing racquet sports, cricket, baseball
– Job hazards: such as painting, decorating, window cleaning
Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury
– pain and tenderness in shoulder (this may extend down your arm too), particularly when you raise your arm out to the side, reach behind you or lift or pull a heavy weight
– pain at night, especially when you sleep on the affected side
– a feeling of shoulder weakness
– unable to move shoulder freely
Depending on the type of injury you have, the pain may come on gradually (common if you have tendonitis) or you may have sudden twinges of pain (common if you have a tear).
How can Physiotherapy treat Rotator Cuff Injury?
In the case of a complete tear surgery may be required it is always important to see a physiotherapist for post surgical rehabilitation and exercises. Sometimes if there is a partial tear surgery may not be indicated and a conservative physiotherapy is advised. This usually involves a progressive programme of range of motion and strengthening exercises.
– Pain Relief / Tissue Repair Treatments: ultrasound, electrical stimulations, heat therapy, TENS
– Shockwave Therapy: proven effective for chronic rotator cuff tendinitis and calcification tendinitis
– Progressive rehabilitation stretching and strengthening exercises
– Sports specific training
– Lifestyle modifications