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Rotator Cuff Injury Types

Today I want to write about rotator cuff injury types because, apparently, it’s very easy to injure one of the rotator cuff muscles or tendons, and a lot of people are not even aware of how easily it can happen.

Rotator Cuff Injury Can Be Classified As

Acute rotator cuff injury as a result of a sudden and powerful movement (this can include falling, paddling the kayak etc)

Chronic rotator cuff injury as a result of an activity that aggravates the muscle

The Different Rotator Cuff Injury Types Can Include

Rotator cuff tendonitis (also called shoulder bursitis or impingement syndrome) – A rotator cuff tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons, and this can happen because of the muscles wearing out with age or because of a trauma caused by everyday movement of the muscle (for example weight lifting).

Rotator cuff tear – A rotator cuff tear can be complete or partial tear and can happen as a result of a trauma or due to use and wear over time.

Symptoms Of A Rotator Cuff Injury

  • Lose of shoulder range of motion
  • Keeping your shoulder inactive
  • Inability to sleep on the shoulder
  • A cracking sensation in the shoulder
  • Pain especially in the top and in the front of the shoulder
  • Weakness in the shoulder

Rotator Cuff Injury Treatment

  • Rest is important to help your shoulder recover
  • Ultrasound will also ease the pain and enhance the healing process
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as: ibuprofen to ease the pain and inflammation
  • Sometimes the doctor may decide a surgery is needed, depends on the size, depth and location of the tear
  • Rotator cuff physical therapy exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and restore shoulder movement

Many People Neglect the Exercises for Rotator Cuff Part

Exercises for rotator cuff strengthening are extremely important to help the rotator cuff muscles heal and develop, and also to prevent future shoulder injuries.

Without the exercises for rotator cuff strengthening you are putting your shoulder in danger of further damage in the future.

Learn from my mistake and don’t disregard your physiotherapist instructions like I did.


Rotator Cuff Damage

In the case of rotator cuff damage, a doctor’s exam and your symptoms may go further in figuring out what the problem is than tests like X-rays and MRI’s. Many times rotator cuff damage is difficult because X-Rays can look normal and small tears cannot always be seen even with imaging technology.

Pain and weakness are classic symptoms of rotator cuff damage, so is pain when dressing or doing something as simple as brushing your hair. If you have these symptoms it is likely that you will receive a diagnosis of rotator cuff damage from your doctor. When you first receive a rotator cuff damage diagnosis, your doctor may put the affected arm in a sling to rest your shoulder and recommend that you take NSAIDS or ibuprofen for the pain and inflammation.

Depending on the severity of the pain, he may prescribe a round of physical therapy or send you home with some exercises to strengthen the muscles in your shoulder. This is standard procedure with rotator cuff damage. Other conservative treatments that your doctor may prescribe if you have rotator cuff damage are hot or cold packs, ultrasound therapy and cortisone shots.

If you have received a rotator cuff damage diagnosis and the pain doesn’t improve after awhile your doctor may recommend surgery. With rotator cuff damage arthroscopic surgery is the less invasive procedure but an open procedure can sometimes be required. After the surgery is complete physical therapy is usually recommended to regain strength and range of motion in the shoulder and arm.

Facts about Rotator Cuff Injuries

As I read more and more about rotator cuff injuries I come across some very interesting facts about the shoulder and the rotator cuff, so I decided to gather them all in one post for you:

1. Almost eight million people in the US will suffer from a shoulder injury this year and over half of them will be a direct result of injuring the rotator cuff
2. About 6 million people in the U.S. seek medical care each year for shoulder problems
3. Rotator cuff tears are most common in men at the age of 65 and older
4. Although the rotator cuff can tear as a result of an injury, most rotator cuff problems develop over time
5. Rotator cuff injuries are the most common ones among all shoulder injuries
6. A healthy shoulder is the most versatile joint in the human body
7. Rotator cuff tear is most common in people who are over the age of 40
8. The shoulder is one of the major joints of the human body, which put it at the highest risk for injury
9. Almost any activity requires the use of the shoulder and when the shoulder is injured, the normal lifestyle is being severely damaged
10. A rotator cuff tear can occur in many ways, and no two rotator cuff tears are the same

I think these are very interesting facts…

Don’t you?

Rotator Cuff Problems

Symptoms of rotator cuff problems are pain and weakness when holding the arm up over the head or when stretching it out horizontally. Painful symptoms of rotator cuff problems may surface when dressing, sleeping, brushing hair, or any activity that involves moving the arm in an outward or upward motion.

Pinpointing the exact source of the symptoms of rotator cuff problems may be difficult but the weakness can be apparent to a doctor during the physical exam. X-rays may look normal and partial tears aren’t always visible to the eye even when using imaging technology such as MRI’s.

If the symptoms of rotator cuff problems point to the diagnosis, non-invasive treatments are normally prescribed before invasive treatments such as surgery are considered. The first treatment of rotator cuff problems tendon is usually applying hot or cold packs to the painful area and treatment with anti-inflammatory medications such as oral NSAIDS or ibuprofen. A sling may also be prescribed so the arm that is affected by the torn rotator cuff can rest.

In addition electrical stimulation of the muscles and nerves, ultrasound, and steroid injections may be recommended for the treatment of a torn radiator cuff. If these non-invasive treatments are not successful at alleviating the

symptoms of rotator cuff problems, arthroscopic surgery or an open repair of the rotator cuff tear may be pursued. After arthroscopic or open surgery is performed extensive physical therapy may be required to regain strength and normal range of movement.

Rotator Cuff Injuries FAQ

When I started the physiotherapy for me rotator cuff tear I used to enter to orthopedists forums and read what other people who suffer from rotator cuff injury ask, because I wanted to learn more about my problem. I noticed that a lot of the questions were being asked in different variations, so I collected the questions I think are the most common and the most important ones.

Q: What is the rotator cuff?

A: The term “rotator cuff” refers to a collection of four tendons that join the four shoulder muscles (Supraspinatus, Subscapularis, Infraspinatus and Teres Minor) to the upper arm. Tendons are stringy tissues that attach muscle to bone.

Q: What can cause a rotator cuff injury?

A: A Rotator cuff injury can be caused as a result of a trauma to the shoulder such as falling on the arm, and it can also be a result of wear and tear on the tendons over the years.  If you participate in a sport that needs you to constantly move your arm over your head, such as tennis, swimming or baseball, you may be more likely to eventually develop a rotator cuff injury.

Q: How a rotator cuff injury is diagnosed?

A: There are several ways to diagnose a rotator cuff injury: x-ray, MRI scan or an ultrasound. Both MRI and ultrasound can indicate on a tear much better than x-ray, and so even if the x-ray results turned out okay, it is possible that there is still a problem with the shoulder.

Q: How is a rotator cuff injury treated?

A: there are several ways to treat a rotator cuff injury: there are OTC or anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, ultrasound treatment and exercises for rotator cuff to strengthen the shoulder. In order not to cause yourself any damage consult your doctor before starting any treatment.

Q: When is it recommended to have a rotator cuff surgery?

A: A surgery is usually recommended if you have a torn tendon and non-surgical treatment didn’t help recover your shoulder. It can also be recommended if a tear in your tendon is affecting your lifestyle.

Q: Can I cause further damage if I keep using the injured rotator cuff?

A: Rotator cuff tear enlarge or get bigger over time. This can happen with cyclic use or a re-injury. It is common for patients with known rotator cuff disease to have acute pain and weakness following a minor injury. This likely represents extension of an existing tear.

Q: Can a rotator cuff tear be healed or strengthened without surgery?

A: A torn tendon cannot be cured without surgery, yet most tears can be taking care of non-surgically. The purpose of the treatment is to relieve the pain and to restore the shoulder its strength.