Overcoming the Pain of Rotator Cuff Injury
Article by Jane Sandwood
Rotator cuff injuries are among the most common causes of shoulder pain in people of all age groups. And they cause a dull ache in the shoulder that often worsens when weight is placed upon it.
They are most prevalent among persons who repeat the same overhead motion (such as painters).
While in the world of sports, they are most often seen among overhead and contact athletes.
Crossfit – which has seen a huge upsurge in Manila – is another sport that can hurt rotator cuff injuries.
During overhead motions such as shoulder presses, overhead snatches, and kettlebell lifts.
What Causes Rotator Cuff Injuries?
The rotator cuff comprises muscles and tendons that form a ‘cuff’ around the shoulder.
While joining the shoulder blades and upper arm bone and keeping the latter in place.
There are two main causes of injury: acute tears and degeneration.
An acute tear can occur, for instance, if you are playing basketball and you fall onto your outstretched arm.
Or if you lift a kettlebell in a rough motion. Rotator cuff injuries are not always sports-related.
Some occur because of degeneration (normal aging).
While others result from repetitive stress, a lack of blood supply to the rotator cuff, or bone spurs.
The latter can grow as we age and rub against the rotator cuff’s tendon, thus causing pain.
Signs and Symptoms
If you have a rotator cuff injury.
You may find it difficult to sleep on the affected side or perform motions such as combing your hair.
You may also find that your arm feels weak.
In general, you will feel a dull ache that does not subside with rest.
Sometimes, you will observe a crackling sensation when moving your shoulder to certain positions.
What are the Treatment Options?
After conducting a physical exam and conducting an imaging test, your doctor will prescribe an appropriate treatment.
For small injuries, rest, ice, and physical therapy will do the trick.
However, if pain persists, steroid injections may help temporarily.
Bear in mind that injections are only a short-term solution since they can actually result in further weakening.
For more serious injuries, surgery may be recommended.
Common procedures include tendon transfer (in which another tendon is used to replace a severely injured one); arthroscopic tendon repair (to attach torn tendon tissue to bone); and open tendon repair (in which a larger section of the damaged tendon is attached to bone).
What Are Some Effective Non-Surgical Options?
As mentioned above, rest and activity modification can help heal your injury.
As can exercises aimed at strengthening the shoulder area.
Important exercises include gentle stretching to increase the range of motion slowly.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can also help calm the pain.
The key is to allow your shoulder the time it needs to heal since surgery always has risks involved, including permanent stiffness and longer recovery time.
If you have a dull pain in your shoulder and you find specific movements hard to perform.
See your doctor about the possibility that you have a rotator cuff injury.
Testing will enable your doctor to see the extent of the damage.
In most cases, rest and strengthening activities will lead to improvements.
But if this isn’t the case, surgery may be the best option to restore former strength and function.
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