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Physiotherapy For Rotator Cuff & Shoulder Ligament Injury

What Is The Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that attach to the bones of the shoulder joint, allowing the shoulder to move and keeping it stable.

Tendinitis refers to irritation of these tendons and inflammation of the bursa (a normally smooth layer) lining these tendons. A shoulder ligament injury occurs when one of the tendons is torn from the bone from overuse or injury.

Each one of these muscles is part of the rotator cuff and plays an important role:

  • Supraspinatus: this holds your humerus in place, keeps your upper arm stable, and helps lift your arm.
  • Infraspinatus: this is the main muscle that lets you rotate and extend your shoulder.
  • Teres Minor: this is the smallest rotator cuff muscle. Its main job is to assist with rotation of the arm away from the body.
  • Subscapularis: this holds your upper arm bone to your shoulder blade and helps you rotate your arm, hold it straight out and lower it.

Both surgical and non surgical options are available when a person tears their shoulder ligaments, including physiotherapy treatments.

Common Types Of Rotator Cuff Injury

There are a number of conditions that can affect your shoulder ligaments. The main ones are listed below.

  • Rotator cuff tear

This is when one or more of the muscles and tendons that make up your rotator cuff tear. You can have a partial or a full-thickness tear. Tears can develop after an injury or if you dislocate your shoulder. Small tears can also develop in the tendon after general wear and tear over a long period of time.

  • Tendinopathy

This is when you have pain in and around the tendons because they are no longer able to repair themselves properly. It is usually because of wear and tear, and is experienced as pain and weakness associated with movements of the shoulder. This can result from an excessive load on the tissues, such as overexertion during sports.

You can also have a combination of wear and tear with an injury, which is why shoulder injuries or pain can become more common over the age of 40. Shoulder ligament injuries can increase in pain and severity over time, and it is recommended to seek out physiotherapy treatment and other non surgical options early.

Signs & Symptoms Of Rotator Cuff Injury

  1. Pain over the top of the shoulder and arm, which can travel down the outside of the arm all the way to the elbow
  2. Difficulty lifting the arm overhead or difficulty with activities such as reaching, getting dressed, or carrying objects
  3. A clicking or grating sound when you move your shoulder

Treatment Options For Rotator Cuff Injury

Most shoulder ligament tears can be treated without surgery. In fact, only a small minority of patients end up undergoing surgical treatment.

Non Surgical Rotator Cuff Treatments May Include:

  • Physical therapy or physiotherapy treatments
  • Anti-Inflammatory medications
  • Cortisone injections

Non surgical treatment should be attempted first in almost every situation of a rotator cuff injury. If non surgical and physiotherapy treatments do not adequately alleviate symptoms or allow for normal function of the shoulder, then a surgical solution may be considered.

How Can Physiotherapy Help With Rotator Cuff Injury?

  • Reducing pain and muscle tension in the scapular and neck area to promote the motility of the scapula.
  • Improving the wrong humeral head position to restore scapulo-humeral mobility.
  • Regain proprioception and movement automatism by neuromotor rehabilitation.

Our trained physiotherapists will prescribe therapy exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the shoulder and can help reduce the demands on the injured rotator cuff. Find out more in our FAQs before reaching out to us for a consultation on treatment options.