Rotator cuff injuries are the most frequent cause of shoulder pain in individuals 40 years old and above. The rotator cuff is a collection of muscles and tendons around the shoulder that ensures the top of the arm bone remains in the socket. The first sign of a rotator cuff injury is often a mild to moderate ache in the shoulder area. This occurs due to irritation in the shoulder tendons. Over time this ache becomes worse, turning into a burning pain especially when sleeping on the affected side. If the irritation does not remit the tissue of the tendon can begin to deteriorate leading to tendinitis. These types of injuries most commonly occur in individuals who have jobs or play sports which involve repetitive overhead motions. Poor posture can also contribute to the development of a rotator cuff injury.
Signs and Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Injuries
The most common signs of rotator cuff injuries and tears include:
- Moderate to severe pain that worsens when relaxing the muscles, resting and when at night when in bed
- Pain with movement that engages the muscles near the rotator cuff such as lifting and lowering the arm, reaching overhead or other specific movements of the arm
- Moderate to severe pain and weakness when attempting to lift the arm out to the side, specifically
- Inability to reach behind the body due to pain, limited mobility and weakness
- A feeling of weakness when moving your arm from the shoulder such as the inability to rotate it as much as previously or difficulty lifting the arm
- A popping of crackling sound when moving the arm from the shoulder or moving it into certain positions
- Intense pain that occurs suddenly as the result of a tear from a fall or injury such as a sports related injury causing trauma separating the tendon from the bone
- A snapping sound or feeling followed by sudden weakness in the arm due to an intense injury
- Pain that seems to move down the arm
According to the American Association of Orthopedic Medicine, it is better to prevent a rotator cuff injury than to cure it. Preventing these types of injuries involves stretching and strengthening muscles and tendons of the shoulder. Combined, strengthening and stretching will condition the rotator cuff and should joint. Even for those who do not have any problems with their shoulder currently should get in the habit of conditioning their rotator cuff. As we age, the possibility of injury to this important area of the body increases while the seriousness of the injury or force needed to produce a tear decreases making these injuries more likely. Getting in the habit of conditioning the shoulders will help insure healthy shoulder joints and rotator cuffs and avoidance of unnecessary pain.
Physical Therapy for Rotator Cuff Injury
If you suffer from a rotator cuff injury, set up an appointment at Great Moves Physical Therapy to learn how physical therapy may help you. Learn more here: http://www.greatmovesphysicaltherapy.com/physical-therapy-services/