Why Is Your Rotator Cuff in Pain and How Can You Solve It?
Written by L.I.C. Strong PT
Maybe your shoulder hurts when you raise your arm above your head. Or perhaps it feels sore and achy when you rotate your arm outward.
You know something’s not right, so what’s going on?
The shoulder is the most unstable joint in the human body. Thus, it’s an easy area to injure.
And the most commonly injured tissues are those of the rotator cuff muscle group.
A rotator cuff injury can become a persistent and irritating problem, especially if you don’t get it properly looked at and treated by an expert. Consequently, it’s critical to get your injury looked at early on and to make sure you get the proper shoulder injury treatment in order to make a full recovery.
We’re going to explore what’s causing your rotator cuff pain, along with the treatment options to help your path to recovery.
Common Rotator Cuff Injuries
The rotator cuff is an important part of the shoulder. These muscles help you reach for items up on hard-to-reach shelves, and they are involved in many sports movements, such as in tennis, swimming, and baseball. Further, these muscles help keep your humerus, your upper arm bone, in your shoulder socket. Usually, rotator cuffs help prevent injury from happening.
Yet with wear and tear, rotator cuff pain can occur. A torn rotator cuff or other injuries to this muscle often happens from overuse or the common case of doing too much, too soon. This is similar to injuries occurring in the lower arms, hips, legs, and feet.
Let’s dive a little bit further into what type of rotator cuff injury may be causing your shoulder pain.
Rotator Cuff Pain Can be a Result of Tendonitis
Tendonitis is a condition where the tendons of a muscle become inflamed and irritated. This type of injury is one of the most common causes of torn rotator cuff symptoms. It frequently occurs when performing repetitive overhead movements.
Bursitis Can Cause the Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Tear
Typically, the bursa at any joint in the body protects the structures from friction during movement. But again, repetitive movements may aggravate this structure leading to inflammation and rotator cuff pain.
A Strained or Torn Rotator Cuff Muscle
If any of the muscles within the area become stretched past their normal limits, a rotator cuff injury and pain may result. In severe cases, a tear can occur in the muscles. This type of injury may also happen from a direct blow from a fall or accident.
How to Treat a Torn Rotator Cuff or Other Shoulder Injury
Again, if you’re experiencing symptoms of a rotator cuff tear or general pain, you should get checked out by a professional. Avoiding a medical provider or putting off scheduling with a physical therapist can exacerbate the condition to a point that you may need rotator cuff surgery.
A physical therapist is able to diagnose your injury, as well as provide a rotator cuff injury treatment plan suited to your specific situation. By learning from an expert how to treat a torn rotator cuff or strained muscle, you can cut down on your rotator cuff healing time.
In addition, you can make a variety of lifestyle adjustments to ensure this type of injury doesn’t happen again. This is similar to changing your routine after an illness or health status change. Arthritis, living with MS, or simply being classified as a member of the geriatric age group fall into this category.
These adjustments as a form of treatment include the following.
Focus on Proper Posture
Sit up tall and don’t slouch, especially if you work at a computer desk day-in and day-out. Not only does poor posture cause lower back pain, but also puts pressure on your shoulder muscles. This leads to rotator cuff injuries, and in some cases additional symptoms like headaches, dizziness, discomfort, and increased stress. Make sure to keep your shoulders down, back, and relaxed.
Practice Postural Exercises
A lot of shoulder and postural issues arise from a weak mid-back. A simple exercise to begin to strengthen this area and avoid the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear or other injury involves sitting or standing up tall.
Gently pinch your shoulder blades down and back. Hold this for 5-10 seconds, and aim to repeat the exercise for 10-12 repetitions and 2-3 times per day.
Go Slow When Starting a New Sport or Exercise Program
Doing too much, too soon is a common issue when it comes to shoulder and rotator cuff injuries. Try to avoid doing this.
Start slow and ease into your sport or exercise of choice. Be sure to slowly and gradually increase your duration, frequency, or resistance to avoid rotator cuff pain or injury.
Use R.I.C.E. And Stop the Activity When Rotator Cuff Pain Occurs
Don’t push through the pain. And when rotator cuff injury symptoms do happen, rest, ice, compress and elevate. Make sure to apply the ice for only 10-15 minutes at a time, with a 45-minute break in between each application.
Listen to your body; you don’t have to live with rotator cuff pain. If you seek out the proper rotator cuff treatment and follow the above advice, your shoulder pain may merely be a small bump in the road.
A physical therapist can offer further advice and education regarding your condition, along with suggesting the best course of shoulder injury treatment. They can prescribe injured or torn rotator cuff exercises to help you heal, allowing you to bounce back faster. Using the BetterPT clinic location tool website or downloading the BetterPT app, find a physical therapist near you and get the best rotator cuff pain treatment today. Don’t want to visit a physical therapist in-office for treatment? Use the BetterTelehealth platform to schedule and attend your sessions virtually.