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4 rotator cuff treatment options that can help prevent surgery



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Your rotator cuff consists of the tissue and muscles that hold your shoulder bone in place. It allows your shoulder to function as it should. Each year, about 2 million people in the United States need rotator cuff treatment because of injured rotator cuffs. When you repeat certain arm movements, you may break down the tissue in your shoulder, causing a rotator cuff injury. Here are some examples of common rotator cuff injuries:

  • Tendinitis — Tendons are the part of your rotator cuff that links your muscles and shoulder bones together. If you injure your tendons while moving your shoulder, irritation and swelling may occur, causing tendinitis.
  • Impingement — When you lift your arm above your shoulder, there is less distance between the top of your shoulder blade and your rotator cuff. If the two structures rub together, impingement may occur, which involves pain and irritation.
  • Bursitis — The bursa is the cushion between your rotator cuff and shoulder bones. If frequent rubbing occurs between the bursa and either the shoulder muscle or bone, then the bursa may swell. This swelling produces more fluid in the bursa sac, causing a painful condition named bursitis.

It is possible to experience more than one of the above examples at a time.

6 common reasons for needing rotator cuff treatment

Wondering if you are more likely to experience a rotator cuff injury than others? Here are some examples of people with a heightened vulnerability to this injury:

  • People aged 40 and over — According to research, 62% of people aged 80 and over get injuries to their rotator cuffs compared to only 9.7% of people aged 20 and under. People over the age of 40 are more likely to have a rotator cuff injury because the blood supply in the rotator cuff reduces with age. A low blood supply disrupts your body’s ability to repair damage to the muscles in your rotator cuff. 
  • Athletes — Sports players who repeatedly move their shoulder in certain ways are more likely to have rotator cuff injuries. Examples include tennis players, swimmers and baseball pitchers.
  • People with jobs that involve repetitive lifting — People whose job consists of repeatedly lifting heavy objects or lifting objects over the head include painters, carpenters and construction workers.

Here are some other common reasons someone may require  rotator cuff treatment:

  • Accidents — Falling on either your stretched-out arm or your shoulder can lead to a rotator cuff injury.
  • Repetitive lifting — Regularly lifting heavy objects — or even lifting objects above your head — can tear the muscles in the rotator cuff. These muscles are small and not very strong, which makes them vulnerable to damage.
  • Poor posture — According to research, people with poor posture may have more rotator cuff injuries than people with good posture.

4 rotator cuff treatment options

For about 80% to 85% of patients, nonsurgical treatments can help decrease pain and promote shoulder function. Research suggests that physical therapy can be a particularly effective nonsurgical treatment for rotator cuff injuries. The recovery period for a rotator cuff injury treated with physical therapy is typically about two months, but the recovery period for rotator cuff surgery can take up to six months. In one study, researchers even found an average recovery time of 14 months after rotator cuff surgery.

At REPAIR SI, our licensed physical therapists can help relieve pain from your rotator cuff injury. Our team desires to give the highest possible quality of rotator cuff treatment to help our patients improve their well-being. Here are some rotator cuff treatment options offered at REPAIR SI that may prevent the need for surgery:

  • Manual therapy — In manual therapy, physical therapists use their hands to help improve muscle movement and reduce pain. One manual therapy technique is joint mobilization. This process involves moving the shoulder joint in specific ways to locate and loosen the restrained tissue. Joint mobilization can help decrease the pain in your shoulder joint and improve its flexibility.
  • Graston Technique® The Graston Technique is a physical therapy method that can help treat rotator cuff injuries. It involves using specialized instruments to put pressure on the injured section of your shoulder. These instruments allow physical therapists to apply more pressure than they could with just their hands. The goal of this technique is to help increase the blood flow in the shoulder joint, which can improve shoulder mobility and decrease pain.
  • Cupping Cupping is a physical therapy method in which cups on the skin create a suction. Research suggests that this method may help treat rotator cuff injuries by promoting blood flow and muscle mobility.
  • Dry needlingDry needling is a physical therapy method in which thin needles are inserted into or around the injured area of the body. According to research, this method may help reduce pain, promote muscle mobility and improve blood flow in your shoulder.

Our REPAIR SI team offers rotator cuff treatment with high-quality PT treatments

At REPAIR SI, we offer a variety of services, from physical therapy to acupuncture to fitness training. Your treatment at REPAIR SI will focus on the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of your life. We value whole-body treatment, which means that we approach your care with your whole wellness in mind, not just one problem area. This is why we’re working with our community to give you the high-quality services that you need.

Our team has a strong dedication to serving our community with compassion and professionalism. In need of rotator cuff treatment? You can count on REPAIR SI for high-quality care. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about our rotator cuff treatment options.

Contact us today for more information or to schedule your first appointment.