Rotator Cuff Tears Physiotherapy Treatment
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What Is A Rotator Cuff Tear?
The Rotator Cuff is a group of four muscles and their associated tendons that cover the head of the humerus and hold it in the shoulder socket. The rotator cuff consists of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor muscles and tendons. When these tendons become inflamed (tendonitis) or suffer tears, the shoulder can become painful, stiff, and lose mobility.
Injuries to the rotator cuff tendons can be caused by repetitive overhead motions, direct trauma such as a fall, impingement, or shoulder imbalance. Rotator cuff tears may cause pain in the shoulder that worsens particularly when the arm is lifted.
Rotator Cuff Tear Injury Symptoms
Torn rotator cuff symptoms will consist of sudden pain in the shoulder sometimes accompanied by a tearing feeling. Symptoms may radiate down into the arm. The patient will often be unable to sleep on the injured shoulder and there may be signs of shoulder impingement where the tendon pinches between the ball and socket of the shoulder joint when moving the arm out over head height.
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Rotator Cuff Tear Treatment
Advice to patients
- Avoid excessive overhead activities.
- Strengthen your shoulders and do not try to play or work through the pain.
- Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications
- Physiotherapy – keeps your shoulder strong and flexible and reduce the pain and weakness
- Cortisone steroid injections – reduce inflammation and control the pain. It is advisable to avoid repeated steroid injections in the presence of a tendon tear, as this may weaken the tendon further.
- Surgery is required –
- a. If the tear follows an injury.
- b. When pain and weakness is not improved with injections and physiotherapy
- The goal of any surgery is to relieve the pain and improve the shoulder strength. This requires a long period of physiotherapy in addition to the surgery.
– Surgery may be done Arthroscopically (keyhole) or Open, or a combination of the two, know as a Mini-repair.
– Some tears are too large to repair and are known as ‘Massive Cuff Tears’.