Rotator cuff injury
The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder joint and work together to rotate the shoulder, lift the arm above the head, and stabilize the joint.
Rotator cuff injuries often occur in people who perform overhead tasks repeatedly such as sports players, painters and decorators and carpenters. However, the condition can occur following a single injury and more severe tears of the rotator cuff may need surgical attention. The risk of rotator cuff injuries also increases with age.
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Symptoms and types of rotator cuff injury
Unless an injury has occurred, a rotator cuff problem usually starts gradually with inflammation, often as a dull ache in the shoulder that gets worse when reaching up high or pushing and pulling. It also becomes more noticeable when trying to sleep on that side.
Rotator cuff tendinitis is the most common cause of shoulder pain and is caused by inflammation of the main tendons in the shoulder. The pain may spread across the entire shoulder becoming severe and, if left untreated, can lead to tearing of the tendon tissue.
The rotator cuff group of muscles and tendons can be damaged in many ways. These can include a sudden injury from a fall or from consistent overuse such as heavy lifting. They can also become damaged through aging as the muscles and tendons gradually degenerate.
There are other causes of rotator cuff problems, these can include:
Acute rotator cuff tear – this can occur from heavy lifting or from cushioning a fall. However, this type of injury would have to be caused by significant force if under the age of 30 years old.
Shoulder subluxation – is a partial dislocation of the shoulder joint. This can be caused if the rotator cuff become damaged or loose through repetitive stress making the muscles and tendons work harder to ensure the joint does not partially dislocate during movement
Chronic tear – is common in people who perform repetitive tasks overhead. For instance; carpenters, painters, and tennis players are more prone to this type of injury which can lead to reduced mobility and severe pain.
Treatments for rotator cuff injury
Luckily, rotator cuff problems and injuries can usually be treated without surgery. However, it is important to have the condition diagnosed to rule out any other medical issues relating to the shoulder and the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding the area.
Once a diagnosis has been made and a treatment plan put in place, patients may be recommended the following options:
Rest: it is an obvious but important part of recovery and resting the shoulder can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
Medicines: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen may be offered in the short-term to help relieve pain and inflammation.
Corticosteroid injections: If a rotator cuff injury continues to be painful with reduced mobility, a steroid injection can be administered into the tendon to reduce inflammation and pain.
Osteopathy: is another treatment option for rotator cuff problems. Osteopaths look at the body as a whole and treat not only the muscles, but ligaments, tendons, joints and connective tissue. The aim of osteopathy is to treat the cause of rotator cuff problems and uses manipulation to stretch and strengthen the shoulder joint. An osteopath will also provide an exercise plan designed to increase mobility of the shoulder joint and reduce pain.
EMANUELE CALABRESE BSC OST (HONS), DO, OSTEOPATHY
A former professional basketball player, Emanuele is a passionate and enthusiastic Italian Osteopath. Emanuele’s professionalism, passion and a non-judgemental approach are part of his everyday clinical practice. His motto is “Everyone is different, and therefore has to be treated differently.”
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