Rotator Cuff Injury
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder. Rotator cuff injuries occur most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs, hobbies, or sports. The risk of rotator cuff injury also increases with age.
Rotator cuff symptoms include pain in the shoulder joint and upper arm, weakness of the arm, difficulty with reaching or extending the arm away from the trunk, and pain when rolling onto the arm while sleeping.
A patient history and examination usually performed by a physical therapist is the first step in evaluating rotator cuff injury. The exam helps to identify pain, muscle tightness, inflammation, and loss of range of motion or strength. In certain cases an X-ray or MRI evaluation may be needed to make a more thorough diagnosis.
Rotator cuff injuries are generally treated with physical therapy with very good success. Treatments typically include electric stimulation, hot/cold packs, passive stretching, joint mobilization, and rehabilitation exercises. Patients are normally instructed in a home exercise program to compliment in-office treatments and make for a quicker, more thorough recovery. Posture and ergonomics are also an important part of the overall treatment plan. In more severe cases, surgery may be required to repair injured tendons.