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  • Writer's pictureAJ Kirkpatrick, PT, DPT

Do I Have A Rotator Cuff Injury?

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Rotator cuff injuries are a common type of injury that can occur in anyone, from athletes to desk workers. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and help to stabilize and move the shoulder; supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus and teres minor. Injuries to these muscles can cause pain and limit the range of motion, making it difficult to perform your daily activities.

Causes

Rotator cuff injuries can be caused by a variety of factors, including trauma, overuse, and degeneration. Traumatic injuries can occur from a fall or direct blow to the shoulder, while overuse injuries can develop from repetitive overhead movements, such as throwing a ball, lifting weights, or repetitive movements with poor scapular positioning. Degenerative changes can also lead to rotator cuff injuries, particularly in older individuals.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a rotator cuff injury can vary depending on the severity of the injury, but common symptoms include:


  • Pain in the shoulder, particularly when lifting or reaching overhead

  • Weakness in the shoulder

  • Limited range of motion in the shoulder

  • Shoulder stiffness

  • Difficulty sleeping on the affected shoulder


Treatment

The treatment for a rotator cuff injury will depend on the severity of the injury and your symptoms. In most cases, conservative treatment with physical therapy is effective in reducing pain and improving function as well as improving range of motion, strength, and stability in the shoulder through specific exercises and stretches. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the rotator cuff. Surgery is typically recommended for individuals who have more significant weakness, loss of function in the shoulder or who have a complete tear of the rotator cuff. This can be diagnosed by a physical therapist and/or another medical professional with experience in orthopedic injuries.

Prevention

There are several steps you can take to help prevent rotator cuff injuries, including:

  • Avoiding repetitive overhead activities in which you are not properly prepared for

  • Strengthening the muscles in the shoulder and the scapular stabilizer muscles through exercise

  • Maintaining good posture

  • Using proper form when lifting weights or performing other activities that require shoulder movement

  • Taking breaks and resting the shoulder between activities


Rotator cuff injuries can be painful and limit the range of motion in the shoulder. However, with proper treatment and prevention, individuals can reduce their risk of developing a rotator cuff injury and improve their overall shoulder health.

If you are in the Mission Viejo area and are experiencing shoulder pain or have any concerns about a potential rotator cuff injury, feel free to reach out through email (info@kinetikpar.com), call/text (949) 464-4009 to schedule a free physical therapy consultation.

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