The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that plays a central role in your shoulder function. These muscles and tendons help you lift and move your arms away from the rest of your body. If you suffer a tear in either shoulder, learning to recognize the symptoms can help you seek a timely diagnosis and receive appropriate treatment to restore your shoulder.
Injury and degeneration are the two primary causes of rotator cuff tears. This type of tear can be partial when one of the muscles becomes damaged, or complete, also known as a full-thickness tear when it pulls the tendon off the bone.
Rotator cuff tears often happen in your dominant shoulder, but you may experience one on either side. If a tear happens in one shoulder, this can increase your chances of developing one in your opposite shoulder.
Risk Factors for Rotator Cuff Tears
- Bone overgrowth in the shoulder
- Decreased blood flow
- Poor posture
- Occupations such as construction jobs
- Sports that increase stress on your shoulder like tennis or weightlifting
- Other activities that result in overuse of your rotator cuff
Common Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tears
- Have difficulty raising your arm
- Pain when you move your arm in specific ways or lie on your side
- Weakness in your shoulder or arm
- Inability to lift objects the way you normally would
- Popping or clicking sound when moving your arm
Although pain and other symptoms are common occurrences when experiencing a rotator cuff tear, you may also have one without exhibiting any symptoms unless it worsens over time.
What Is the Diagnosis Method for a Rotator Cuff Tear?
During your diagnostic consultation, your doctor reviews your medical history and asks you questions about your current symptoms, including their onset, frequency, severity, and if any particular movement or activity causes flare-ups.
A key component of the physical assessment is to rule out other medical conditions such as a pinched nerve, bursitis, or rotator cuff tendinitis.
Your doctor may also order medical imaging for your shoulder like x-rays, an MRI, or an ultrasound, to get a more detailed picture of the state of your bones and tissues in the rotator cuff area.
Treatment Options for Rotator Cuff Tears
Physical therapy and surgery are the two main treatment options for a rotator cuff tear. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy if you have an atraumatic tear or are a senior. If your tear is traumatic and/or you are under 50 years of age, surgery can be an effective solution. Physical therapy may also help you recover after getting a surgery
Physical therapy offers the following benefits for rotator cuff tears:
- Pain relief
- Increased range of motion
- Strengthening exercises
- Increased flexibility
A customized treatment plan that combines in-office appointments and at-home protocols to support your healing can help protect the tear and prevent it from aggravating.
Other treatments for a rotator cuff tear include medications and steroid injections, which may be part of a multimodal care protocol that utilizes physical therapy and/or surgery.
Trust ProFysio Physical Therapy to Restore Your Health
At ProFysio Physical Therapy, we combine advanced techniques with compassionate care to provide an accurate diagnosis and tailor a treatment plan to your specific needs.
Our team uses a wide range of methods, including:
- Manual therapy
- Therapeutic exercise
- Electrical stimulation
- Balance training
We are also committed to patient education and home exercise programs to help you play an active role in your well-being. Our providers believe in collaborative care, and we work with your primary care physician and other medical professionals to ensure that everyone is up to date with your current situation and provide you with comprehensive care.
Our physical therapists are here to address any questions or concerns you may have as we monitor your healing and adjust your treatment plan accordingly. Our office also offers telehealth options to make physical therapy more accessible.
If you are experiencing symptoms that indicate a rotator cuff tear, contact ProFysio Physical Therapy today at (732) 812-5200 to schedule an appointment in Monmouth or Middlesex Counties!