What is Rotator cuff?
Rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons in the shoulder that supports the movement and the stabilization of the shoulder joint each time it moves. It keeps the upper arm bone tightly in the vicinity of the shallow socket of the shoulder and helps in rotation of the arm. Any harm or damage to these muscles can cause pain and weakness in the joint. Which makes it hard to do day-to-day activities such as combing your hair, reaching for something on higher shelf or lifting something etc.
Repeatedly performing the overhead motion is one of the main causes of injury. Painters, Swimmers, Basketball players, carpenters etc. are prone to Rotator cuff injury. Age is also a contributing factor for the tear of rotator cuff in people.
The most common types of Injuries related to Rotator cuff are as follows:
1. Tendinitis: Tendinitis occurs due to overuse of the rotator cuff which causes inflammation and irritation in tendons that is attached to the bone. Other cause of this type of injury is degeneration due to aging in which the muscles tend to ear out as people grow old. If not treated properly, poor blood supply can lead to a second tear to the cuff.
2. Acute Rotator Cuff tear: Caused by a sudden and powerful raising or rotation of the arm, this injury can also be incurred in order to shield a fall for protection. Some of the examples causing this injury include: Heavy lifting, a jerk while throwing a ball, car accident etc.
3. Bursitis: Bursa is a sac filled with lubricating liquid and is located between bones, tendons, muscles and skin. Any type of irritation or inflammation to bursa is called Bursitis. This type of injury is mainly caused by repetition of minor work or sudden movement.
4. Chronic Tear: Chronic tear is usually found in the people who are involved in excessive over head movements such as sports related. This can also be a consequence of previously existing acute injury.
1. Feeling of irritation while sleeping in the night in the injured shoulder
2. Avoiding activities that cause pain
3. Difficulty reaching down the back
4. Pain in the shoulder while doing overhead activities
5. Weakness while lifting weight
6. Feeling of resistance while movement of the shoulder
Medical history: After a brief discussion about the injury and symptoms your doctor will ask you about any medical history related or not to the rotator cuff injury. This is to make sure if any previous acute injury or strain has led to the current injury and can possess a long-term threat.
Physical activities: Questions about the physical activity such as on job physical activity or any other heavy lifting at home etc. that could have led to the injury would help doctor diagnose the injury.
Physical examination: Physiotherapist will ask you to rotate or move your arm in a specific manner to know more about the rotator cuff injury. Physiotherapist will also test the strength and motion of your arm to determine if the injury is degenerative, acute or chronic. This examination also includes touching the muscles or bones at the shoulder joint. A physiotherapist by visualizing can sometimes tell whether the shoulder is damaged and how it is different from the not damaged one.
· Initial treatment includes applying cold and hot packs to reduce swelling in muscles
· Physiotherapy or Physical therapy to gain strength and support in muscles
· Exercise helps a lot - but only the right one at the right time of the injury
· Avoid doing activities that can put pressure on shoulder and worsen the injury
· Pain relief as needed prescribed by your GP
It takes about 6 weeks to get better from a shoulder injury. If your symptoms persist, then further guidance may be requested from an orthopedic specialist.
It is always best to consult with your physiotherapist for ongoing treatment even when symptoms do not persist as it can return if not taken care of.