A rotator cuff strain involves a gash to any of the four rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder. It is important to note that these muscles are vital in stabilizing the shoulder joint. Since the shoulder joint possesses a wide range of movement, it is quite prevalent that the rotator cuff muscle or tendon can end up torn through over stretching or prompt twisting motion of the affected joint. It is important that you are familiar how to manage the symptoms of bone, muscle and joint injuries by enrolling in a first aid class today.
The symptoms of a rotator cuff tear usually involve abrupt movement in the shoulder that is oftentimes accompanied by a tearing sensation. It can be severe and can spread down into the arm.
The individual might be unable to sleep on the affected shoulder and there are signs of impingement where the tendon pinches between the ball and socket of the shoulder joint when moving the arm out over head height.
The pain can steadily worsen over time and there is weakness in the shoulder which occurs on the point where the individual could not lift the arm up to the side. Take note that movements over the head such as in racket sports can be difficult.
The vital measure for a rotator cuff tear is to apply an ice pack to minimize the swelling and pain. The sooner an ice pack is applied, the sooner it will stop the inflammation, pain and swelling. Remember that cold therapy must be applied for 10 minutes every hour and reduced to 3-4 times as the pain subsides.
The affected arm must be allowed to rest. A sling can be useful if the individual is required to go to work or school since it immobilizes the shoulder but can be taken off at night.
A sports injury professional will start a rehabilitation program for the rotator cuff including exercises. In case the injury is more than a few days old and becomes chronic, alternating heat and cold is beneficial. In the later stages of rehabilitation, heat alone is usually advised.
When a doctor is consulted
The doctor will prescribe pain and anti-inflammatory medications. In most cases, imaging studies such as MRI, CT scan or an X-ray can confirm a diagnosis and rule out a fracture.
Oftentimes, the individual is given a steroid injection administered into the area to minimize the inflammation as well as allow the rehabilitation to start. A full rehabilitation program that includes stretching and strengthening exercises is usually advised.
In some cases, shoulder massage as well as cross friction technique to the rotator cuff tendon will reduce the injury down to its acute phase to enable proper healing of the injury. In case the injury is severe, an individual who is young and active would require surgery to repair the tear.
The recovery period of a rotator cuff tear tends to vary depending on various factors. Conservative treatment has a high chance of success in fixing the problem. As for surgery, the results are often good which results to lasting pain relief and improved function.