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Torn Rotator Cuff

Torn Rotator Cuff

Description Of The Injury: The rotator cuff is a collection of muscles and tendons located in the shoulder area. They help keep the humerus bone in its socket and act as stabilizers in a majority of upper body exercises and movements. A tear may occur in any of following four muscles that are part of the rotator cuff: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor.

Injury Symptoms: The classic sign of a torn rotator cuff is considerable pain in the shoulder joint area that may increase in intensity when attempting to lift, lower or rotate the arm.

Additional Information

Home Treatments:

Initial treatment of a torn rotator cuff should be taking a non steroidal anti inflammatory medication to reduce the pain and inflammation. Ice packs should be administered for 20 minutes, 4-6 times per day for the first several days. Afterwards, a heat pack or warm soaked towel can be used to massage the shoulder area to loosen the muscles. A professional diagnosis is needed to determine the severity of the injury and advanced treatment options.

Professional Medical Treatments:

Depending on the severity of the tear, your doctor may advise the use of cortisone injections to aid in reducing the inflammation or therapy using electrical stimulation or ultrasound. A shoulder sling may be needed for several weeks. If the tear is severe enough, or persists, surgical repair is then performed.

Physical Therapy and Exercises:

Rehabilitating from a rotator cuff tear requires performing exercises that specifically target the rotator cuff muscles. A physical therapist may initially work the shoulder through its range of motion before introducing internal and external rotation exercises to be done with a resistance band or dumbbells. These involve keeping the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle and rotating the elbow toward the center of the body and then away. This rotates the shoulder joint and strengthens the muscles.

Exercise Techniques to Prevent Injury:

Internal and external rotation exercises should be performed to keep the shoulder cuff strong enough to prevent tears from occurring. Additional exercises may include wand exercises, where one holds a bar or wand with both hands while performing flexion, extension, rotation and shrugs of the shoulder and arm.