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Rotator Cuff Injury

A rotator cuff injury is a common shoulder problem that can cause pain, weakness, and limited mobility. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, providing stability and facilitating movement.

Rotator cuff injuries can occur due to various factors, leading to discomfort and functional limitations. Common treatments include rest, medication, and physical therapy.

Our team of doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists have helped countless patients in Georgia. If you have been hurt in an accident, we can connect you with a personal injury lawyer. Call us today at 1-800-HURT911 or 855-475-2588!

Common Causes of Rotator Cuff Injuries

A rotator cuff injury can occur suddenly, as a result of a traumatic event such as a fall or sports-related injury, or develop gradually over time due to repetitive strain or degenerative changes. Some common causes include:

Trauma

Direct trauma or impact to the shoulder joint, such as a fall onto an outstretched arm or a motor vehicle accident, can cause tears or strains in the rotator cuff muscles or tendons.

Overuse or Repetitive Movements

Repetitive overhead activities or motions, such as throwing, lifting, painting, or swimming, can lead to wear and tear on the rotator cuff tendons, increasing the risk of injury.

Age-Related Changes

Degenerative changes associated with aging, such as tendon degeneration, muscle weakness, or loss of flexibility, can make the rotator cuff more susceptible to injury, especially in individuals over the age of 40.

Poor Posture

Prolonged or repetitive poor posture, such as slouching or rounding the shoulders forward, can contribute to muscle imbalances and increase stress on the rotator cuff, leading to injury over time.

Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator cuff injuries can cause a variety of symptoms that may vary in severity and duration. Common symptoms include:

Shoulder Pain

The most common symptom of a rotator cuff injury is pain, which may be located in the front, side, or back of the shoulder. The pain may worsen with overhead activities or lifting objects and may radiate down the arm.

Weakness

Rotator cuff injuries can cause weakness or difficulty with lifting, reaching, or performing everyday activities that involve the shoulder, such as combing hair or reaching for items on high shelves.

Limited Range of Motion

Individuals with a rotator cuff injury may experience stiffness or decreased range of motion in the shoulder joint, making it challenging to move the arm in certain directions or perform specific movements.

Clicking or Popping Sensation

Some individuals may experience a clicking, popping, or grinding sensation in the shoulder joint during movement, which may indicate damage to the rotator cuff structures.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing a rotator cuff injury typically involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and imaging studies.

Medical History

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, the onset and duration of pain, any previous injuries or activities that may have contributed to the injury, and your overall health and medical history.

Physical Examination

A physical examination may be performed to assess shoulder strength, range of motion, stability, and tenderness. Specific tests, such as the Neer test, Hawkins-Kennedy test, or Jobe test (also known as the “empty can” test), may be performed to assess for rotator cuff impingement or weakness.

Imaging Studies

While a physical examination can provide valuable information, imaging studies such as X-rays, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis, assess the extent of the injury, and evaluate the integrity of the rotator cuff structures.

Treatments for a Rotator Cuff Injury

Treatment for a rotator cuff injury depends on the severity of the injury, the individual’s symptoms, and their functional goals. Some common treatment options include:

Rest and Activity Modification

Resting the shoulder and avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms, such as overhead lifting or repetitive movements, can help reduce pain and inflammation and allow the injured tissues to heal.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy exercises and interventions, such as range of motion exercises, strengthening exercises, manual therapy, and modalities (e.g., heat, ice, ultrasound), can help improve shoulder strength, flexibility, and function, and reduce pain.

Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be recommended to help manage pain and reduce inflammation associated with a rotator cuff injury.

Corticosteroid Injections

In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be administered directly into the shoulder joint to reduce pain and inflammation and improve symptoms temporarily. These injections are typically reserved for patients who have persistent or severe symptoms that do not respond to conservative treatments.

Surgery

If conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered, especially for individuals with large or symptomatic tears in the rotator cuff. Surgical options may include arthroscopic repair, open repair, or tendon transfer, depending on the specific characteristics of the injury and the individual’s goals for recovery.

Summary

Rotator cuff injuries are common shoulder problems that can cause pain, weakness, and limited mobility. These injuries can occur due to trauma, overuse, age-related changes, or poor posture. Treatment options may include rest, physical therapy, medications, corticosteroid injections, or surgical intervention, depending on the severity of the injury.

Our team of doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists have helped countless patients in Georgia. If you have been hurt in an accident, we can connect you with a personal injury lawyer. Call us today at 1-800-HURT911 or 855-475-2588!

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