Rotator Cuff Injury Prevention and Treatment

Rotator Cuff Injury Prevention and Treatment

Richard Kang, MD Blog

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You don’t have to be a major league pitcher to suffer from a rotator cuff injury. Any type of repeated overhead motion can cause an injury to the rotator cuff of the shoulder. Painters, carpenters, warehouse workers, and many other physically demanding occupations have a high risk of developing this type of injury. Thankfully, rotator cuff injuries can be treated to relieve pain and restore full range of motion.

What is the Rotator Cuff?

There is a collection of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint that keeps the upper arm bone (humerus) in place in the shoulder socket. The tendons stretch from the collar bone (clavicle) to the humerus, allowing the arm its level of flexibility.

What is a Rotator Cuff Injury?

When the tendons in the shoulder become strained it’s possible for a tear to occur. This can come from repeated motion or a one-time injury. Repeated overhead reaching or lifting can cause the tendon tissue to degenerate and weaken, causing a greater risk of a tear. A one-time incident like the arm suddenly being twisted or jerked can also cause a tear of one or more of the tendons that make up the rotator cuff.

What are the Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury?

If you’ve injured your rotator cuff, you may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • A dull ache from deep within the shoulder
  • Pain when lying on the affected shoulder
  • Difficulty reaching behind your back or above your head
  • Weakness in the arm on the affected side 

When Should You Seek Medical Treatment?

Anytime you have persistent shoulder pain that does not subside after a few days, seek medical treatment. If you have severe pain or arm weakness immediately following an injury, see a medical professional right away.

Will a Rotator Cuff Injury Heal on its Own?

It’s best to seek treatment for a rotator cuff injury. If ignored, the injury could worsen and lead to irreversible damage, such as loss of movement or arm weakness. If shoulder pain persists (even if it subsides with over the counter pain medication), seek treatment as soon as possible.

What Kind of Treatment is Required?

In most cases, physical therapy and adequate rest may be all that is required for healing. It’s important to keep moving the affected arm to prevent permanent immobility. In the case of severe injury, surgery may be required.

Who is at Risk for a Rotator Cuff Injury?

Some factors may make a person more likely to suffer a rotator cuff injury. People who are more susceptible include:

  • Those who work physically demanding jobs where a lot of reaching above the head is required.
  • Athletes such as baseball players, tennis players, golfers, quarterbacks, and others whose sport requires repeated overhead motion.
  • Those over the age of 40, as the risk increases with age.
  • Those who have a family history of rotator cuff injuries may be more likely to suffer from it as well, as there may be a genetic connection.

How Can You Prevent Rotator Cuff Injury?

Prevention is the best course of action against rotator cuff injury. If you have any of the above risk factors, or if you’ve had a previous shoulder injury, it’s in your best interest to use preventative measures, such as:

  • Shoulder stretches
  • Strengthening exercises for the muscles of the chest, shoulder, and upper arm
  • Use of ergonomic tools at work and at home to avoid repeatedly reaching overhead

A physical therapist can offer suggestions and even design a plan that will help you avoid injury.

CORE Medical & Wellness Treats Rotator Cuff Injuries

Most rotator cuff injuries can be treated with non-surgical methods. CORE Medical & Wellness specializes in natural, non-surgical treatments for a wide range of sports-related injuries, including those involving the rotator cuff. Read about treatment options here:

Looking for shoulder pain relief? Call CORE Medical & Wellness today to schedule a consultation: (888) 512-0688.

Dr. Richard Kang is double board certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine, and he  completed an interventional pain medicine fellowship at the prestigious New York Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia University – College of Physicians and Surgeons.  Read his full bio here.