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Treatment for Shoulder Rotator Cuff Tears

Treatment For Rotator Cuff Tears Injuries

Have you found that it’s becoming more difficult to reach behind your back? Are you experiencing pain, aching, or restriction when you comb your hair? If you are, you could be suffering from a rotator cuff injury.

The shoulder is the joint in our body that has the largest range of motion and, by necessity, it is inherently unstable. The ball of the joint is much larger than the shallow socket that contains it, and it is the ligaments and the four muscles that surround it – the rotator cuff – that keeps it stable. Suffice to say, damaging your rotator cuff can have a significant impact on your daily living. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to understanding rotator cuff tears and the best ways to treat them. 

This blog explains key information regarding shoulder rotator cuff tears and proper treatment techniques. For personalised injury advice, contact our team at Northern Districts Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic today.


How Common Are Rotator Cuff Tears? 

Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common injuries seen in sports clinics and physiotherapy appointments. A rotator cuff injury is especially common in those who play sports or have professions in which they spend time with their arms over their heads. Golfers are particularly prone to this kind of injury, as are swimmers, and it’s an injury that the British Journal of Sports Medicine estimates up to 30% of people will suffer from at some point in their lives. According to research conducted by the University of Saarland Medical School in Germany, the likelihood of rotator cuff tears becomes significantly higher as we age. 


Common Causes of Shoulder Rotator Cuff Tears

Acute rotator cuff tears are due to an injury or trauma, and are the typical cause for people who have never had shoulder pain before. Chronic tears, however, can occur gradually over time, and get more common as people age. As the tendons start to degenerate, many people over 65 will find themselves experiencing degenerative tears of the rotator cuff.

For younger people, one of the most common causes is repetitive overhead activities. This could be related to work (painters, labourers, carpenters) or sport (swimmers, golfers, throwers). Some people may also have a predisposition to rotator cuff tears, identified through a family history of tears.


Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff tears are typically described as a dull ache, deep in the shoulder. It’s common to find that a tear will disturb sleep – especially if lying on the injured shoulder – and leave your arm weak. While chronic tears don’t have the intensity of pain that acute tears too, both are likely to experience limited ranges of motion. It’s likely that you’ll find yourself in pain when reaching behind your back, combing your hair, or grabbing a seat belt.


Ways to Treat Rotator Cuff Tears

When dealing with a shoulder rotator cuff tear at home, it’s vital that you adjust your lifestyle accordingly. Minimise activities around the home that irritate your injury, as painful motions can delay the healing process. This may include sweeping, dusting, making the bed, hanging up clothes, or other routine activities. Use your good arm to help lift the injured arm up to maintain movement.

Small exercises such as elevating the breastbone can activate shoulder blade muscles and gradually build up strength again. Your focus will need to be on slowly improving your range of motion, doing exercises such as tucking your elbows to the side and pulling your forearms out from your body. In these circumstances it is essential to remember that you only stay within pain-free movements – pain is not a good sign, and will hinder rather than help.


Physiotherapy for Shoulder Rotator Cuff Tears

Working with a physiotherapist is one of the most common ways to address a rotator cuff injury. Visiting a physio will allow an experienced professional to listen to your symptoms, chat through your medical history, and assess the way you move. With a formal diagnosis, a physiotherapist will be able to build you a personalised treatment plan, built with a detailed knowledge of the way an athlete’s body works mechanically. Treatment can be tailored to suit your high-intensity lifestyle, and you can get back to work and sports as soon as possible.


Book a Physio Appointment at NDPE Today

Any of these symptoms sound familiar? If you’re concerned about your shoulder, don’t delay treatment. The longer you wait, the worse your injury could become. At NDPE, we have a team of friendly physiotherapists happy to sit down with you to assess the damage and start treatment swiftly. Contact us today to book your very first physio appointment, and let’s get your shoulder back to its proper function. 


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Northern Districts Physiotherapy

Northern Districts Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic was established in 1995 and consists of an energetic team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who take the time to understand ...


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95 Ryedale Road
West Ryde NSW 2114

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