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Rotator cuff injury: What does treatment and recovery time look like?



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The rotator cuff is an area in the shoulder made up of tendons and muscles around the joint. The tendons and muscles keep your shoulder bone in your socket and allow the shoulder to function as it should. If one of the tendons in your rotator cuff becomes torn, the result can be limited mobility, pain, and arm weakness. Tears most often occur from repetitive overuse or aging. Approximately 22% of the population in the U.S. experience rotator cuff tears. If you’re one of the many who have experienced this injury, you can learn more about recovery with physical therapy here.

How can you tell if you’re dealing with a rotator cuff injury?

Although you must go to a licensed medical professional who can determine if you have a rotator cuff injury, you can read through these symptoms for a better idea of what you may be dealing with:

  • Pain in one of your shoulders — One of the top signs of a rotator cuff injury is pain in your shoulder. The pain may become recurring and typically occurs at the top of the shoulder. It may happen when you lift your arms or use your shoulder during movement.

  • Pain at night — Another common sign of an injury to the rotator cuff is difficulty sleeping on the shoulder during the night. Your shoulder pain may be so significant that it feels very uncomfortable to lie on it while you’re sleeping.

  • Limited mobility in your arm — An injury to your rotator cuff might result in a limited ability to operate your arm as you normally would. You might have trouble lifting your arm in the air without experiencing pain. You may also have difficulty using your arm to pick up objects. Overall, using your arm to perform daily activities might be inefficient because of a rotator cuff injury.

  • Weakness when using your arm — Rotator cuff injuries are also known to cause weakness when using the arm. This weakness can cause limited mobility just as pain can. A person with this type of injury might have trouble lifting objects that they would typically be able to lift with ease.

  • Cracking or popping sounds in your shoulder — Cracking and popping sounds are another common experience for someone with a rotator cuff injury. These sounds may occur when using the shoulder to lift objects or when raising the arm.

What does treatment and recovery time look like for rotator cuff injuries?

Recovery from an injury to the rotator cuff can vary. It typically depends on the severity of the injury and what type of treatment is being employed to address the injury. Most rotator cuff tears won’t heal perfectly on their own, which is why so many people end up undergoing surgery to improve function in their shoulder. If you need to undergo surgery for a minor or partial rotator cuff tear, the typical amount of time before you can return to movement is around 12 weeks. It may be up to six months before you can return to regular physical activity if you’re an active person. If you have a severe rotator cuff tear, recovery after surgery can take anywhere from six months to a year. Physical therapy treatment plays a significant role in recovery time. Those who don’t undergo PT often risk prolonging their recovery and even re-injuring themselves. Those who go to PT are less likely to experience prolonged recovery and may even speed up their recovery time. 

During physical therapy sessions, patients often perform strengthening exercises, range-of-motion exercises and pain-relieving techniques. Most people with shoulder injuries experience limited mobility to the affected shoulder, which PT aims to improve. It can help you regain strength in your arm and make you more comfortable with moving your arm to perform daily activities. Physical therapy can help you improve the condition of your rotator cuff and prevent you from elongating the time it takes for you to recover from your injury or surgery.

At REPAIR SI, we can address your rotator cuff injury with high-quality treatment

Our team at REPAIR SI strives to provide each of our patients with a level of care they won’t find anywhere else. We provide services including physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture and fitness training. When you come to us for your treatment, you ensure that your physical, mental and spiritual life will also be addressed. We emphasize whole-body treatment, which means your care isn’t limited to just one problem area. Your overall wellness is the most important to us. That’s why we’ve partnered with our community to provide you with the innovative care and quality resources that you need to address your health and wellness. 

Each of our team members is committed to serving our community in a compassionate, professional manner to ensure the best possible outcomes. If you’ve been dealing with a rotator cuff tear and you need treatment or postoperative care following surgery, you can feel confident that you’re getting high-quality care when you come to us. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We’d love to hear from you.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.