Rotator cuff tears are very common, and very painful! Many people who sustain them report feeling a dull ache in their shoulder, as well as difficulty sleeping on the affected side or reaching around behind their back. This kind of pain typically doesn’t resolve on its own, and can seriously affect the way you’re able to function comfortably on a daily basis. The good news is that if you have sustained a rotator cuff tear, you don’t have to worry about living with the pain forever. A hand therapist at our clinic can help you to find the pain relief you deserve.
Our innovative care strategies at Hand In Hand Rehabilitation will help you find quick relief. Call us today to learn more about rotator cuff injuries, and how you can get help from our experienced team of occupational and hand therapists!
What is a rotator cuff?
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder that connects the bone in the arm (humerus) to the shoulder blade (scapula).
It allows the shoulder to move with stability and flexibility. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles, any of which can be injured or torn. There may be pain or weakness as a result of this.
A rotator cuff tear can sometimes prevent a person from raising his or her arm at all, which can get in the way of being able to perform their job, pick up their children, or even do something as simple as getting dressed without pain.
Causes of rotator cuff tears
The rotator cuff is most damaged by repetitive overhead activities, such as painting walls, washing windows, playing tennis, swimming, or lifting weights incorrectly. Rotator cuff tears can occur as a result of an injury or develop over time. A fall, a blow, or a strong force pulling the arm can cause injuries. Athletes are also susceptible to these injuries.
Tears that develop over time are caused by rotator cuff wear and tear. Slouching or hunching your shoulders forward reduces the amount of space available for the rotator cuff to move freely, resulting in friction. This can result in inflammation and, in the worst-case scenario, a tear.
Mayo Clinic explains various factors that might increase a person’s risk of sustaining a rotator cuff injury or tear:
- “Age. As you get older, your risk of a rotator cuff injury increases. Rotator cuff tears are most common in people older than 60.
- Construction jobs. Occupations such as carpentry or house painting require repetitive arm motions, often overhead, that can damage the rotator cuff over time.
- Family history. There may be a genetic component involved with rotator cuff injuries as they appear to occur more commonly in certain families.”
If this type of injury goes untreated for too long, certain complications may surface. You could end up with a permanent loss of motion or weakness in your shoulder or arm. Untreated rotator cuff tears often result in fast degeneration of the shoulder joint.
The good news is that therapy exists for this kind of injury! You don’t have to spend time going from doctor to doctor to find well-deserved pain relief. An occupational or hand therapist at our clinic can get you on your way to recovery!
How can a hand or occupational therapist help?
Many patients find that hand therapy relieves their symptoms and allows them to avoid surgery. If surgery to repair the torn tendons is required, the arm will be in a sling for four to six weeks. A therapist will show you how to move safely after surgery while protecting yourself.
Based on the surgeon’s recommendations, a therapist will monitor and guide a patient’s progress. Initially, therapy will focus on gaining shoulder motion through passive movement, in which the good arm assists in the movement of the operated arm.
Our therapists can also show you how to manage pain through the use of heat and ice. To relieve pain at night, a hand therapist can demonstrate the safe performance of daily activities and sleeping positions. As the repair heals, the arm will be able to move without assistance, and strengthening will be possible.
Occupational therapy may also include exercises to improve posture and core strength. A therapist will assist with the return to hobbies, sports, and work once the repair is strong enough.
Are you recovering from a rotator cuff tear or another injury?
If you’ve sustained a rotator cuff tear, know that help is on its way.
Call our clinic today to learn more about how our team of skilled occupational and hand therapists can help ease your pain as you recover and get back to doing the things you love. We’re here to support you in your recovery journey, no matter how long or short it may be!