Understanding the Importance of Physiotherapy for Rotator Cuff Injuries

Have you ever wondered why rotator cuff injuries and shoulder pain continues to be such a persistent problem for everyone from professional athletes, to weekend warriors and office workers? From throwing injuries to repetitive strain, the issues and therefore solutions can be quite variable. In this post, we dive deep into the root causes of rotator cuff injuries and explore the ways in which we can work towards more effective results.

What Causes Rotator Cuff Injuries?

Rotator cuff tears do not only happen during athletic activities. They can occur from dysfunctional movements in the shoulder blade and arm that lead to wear and tear over time in the rotator cuff eventually causing a tear. There are four primary rotator cuff muscles, but the one that is most commonly injured is the supraspinatus muscle. 

The reason it is so commonly injured is that at the point where it undergoes compression at the shoulder, the muscle has a lower amount of blood flow, so it doesn’t repair as easily after trauma. The presence of a rotator cuff tear, however, does not mean that you should be experiencing pain or restrictions in your daily life on a day-to-day basis. 

Physiotherapy can be extremely beneficial for restoring movement, decreasing pain, and getting you back to your activities of daily living and athletic activities even with the presence of a rotator cuff tear. Physiotherapy in Mississauga can help you avoid surgery for rotator cuff tears as well, and therefore should be the first line of treatment for anyone who has a rotator cuff tear, or shoulder pain.

Does Physiotherapy Work for Rotator Cuff Issues?

Physiotherapy treatment is a very effective form of treatment to address rotator cuff issues. from the Improvement in range of motion to athletic motions such as throwing a baseball or football, to improving your ability to reach into a cupboard to grab a plate without pain, or pick up your kids or grandkids, Physiotherapy can be a very effective form of treatment for rotator cuff injuries.

What Exercises Are Good for Rotator Cuff Pain?

The main culprit, or root cause, of rotator cuff pain, is more often than not found in problematic motions of the shoulder blade. What we mean by this is that when the shoulder blade does not move properly this results in compression of one of the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder which causes repetitive injuries to that muscle, leading to the breakdown of the tissue, inflammation, and pain. 

Therefore exercises that are effective in resolving rotator cuff issues need to not only include the arm bone known as the humerus itself, but also the scapula and the thoracic spine and the neck. This is why an individualized approach to your physiotherapy treatment plan is crucial. 

Our physiotherapists will take the time to do a thorough assessment and identify exactly which muscles need to get stronger, which ones are working too hard and need to undergo some manual therapy to reduce their tension and activation, and which joints need to move better to allow proper motion through the shoulder neck and thoracic spine.

Is Massage Good for the Rotator Cuff?

The most commonly injured muscle in the rotator cuff is called the supraspinatus. The reason that the supraspinatus is the most commonly injured muscle in the rotator cuff, is that this muscle has reduced blood flow at its most commonly injured area, which is towards the tenderness attachment at the upper arm bone right under the acromion process. 

Massage therapy can be effective to aid in the progress of recovering from a rotator cuff injury because massage therapy can help reduce inflammation, move lymphatic fluid, and increase blood flow to the muscle in order to improve the healing process.

What Are 2 Warning Signs of a Rotator Cuff Tear?

One of the most commonly reported issues after a rotator cuff tear is difficulty raising the arm to reach into a cupboard due to pain. Painful arm movements overhead may indicate a rotator cuff tear. Another sign of a potential rotator cuff tear would be pain where the shoulder blade meets the upper arm bone right on the outside of the shoulder, and redness and swelling in this region.

What Is the First-Line Treatment for a Rotator Cuff Injury?

The first line treatment for rotator cuff injury is gentle shoulder movements and stretches. These will improve blood flow and circulation to the injured area, mobilize fluid and inflammation that is irritating the muscle and the nerve locally, and potentially the use of over-the-counter medications, or ice. Your physiotherapist will do a thorough assessment to help identify the best course of treatment for you at the stage of your injury.

What Can I Expect During Physiotherapy for a Rotator Cuff Injury?

One of the main areas that will be treated during the treatment plan for rotator cuff injury is the scapular motion. In order for the supraspinatus to function and optimally and avoid compression at the shoulder joint, the scapula needs to be functioning properly. 

The scapular motion may include contributions from not only the scapula and shoulder but also the neck, mid-back and chest muscles and Joints as well. A thorough physiotherapy assessment will help to discover which of these areas is affected in your particular case and which ones need to be addressed to help you recover from the rotator cuff tear.

In addition to restoring adequate scapular motion the rotation in the arm bone will be restored through exercise and manual therapy. This will involve exercises that improve external rotation, internal rotation, and humoral rotation in all planes of movement. This may involve the use of elastic stretch bands, across-over arm stretch, or gentle stretches and movements that will help improve the elasticity of the tight shoulder muscles.

How Long Does Physical Therapy Take for Rotator Cuff Injury?

The typical healing process can take 4 to 6 weeks but each individual’s case can vary slightly depending on their medical history, the size and location of their tear, and previous shoulder injuries.

At Body Science Therapy we offer personalized treatment plans for a wide variety of common conditions like frozen shoulders, sports injuries and excessive overuse injuries.

Key Takeaways

We’ve seen firsthand the amazing results that our patients achieve with the help of our clinic and expert Physiotherapists. From a rotator cuff tear due to repetitive strain to athletic injuries, our patients have transformed their lives through Physiotherapy for rotator cuff tears. Don’t wait any longer to experience these results for yourself! Give us a call, we would love to be a part of your success story.