Rotator Cuff Tear Rehab
Rotator cuff tear rehab is one of those areas that I am asked about all the time.
It is also, quite simply, the most important part of recovering from a rotator cuff tear. Rotator cuff tear rehab done early enough and in a dedicated way is the safest way to treat the majority of rotator cuff tears.
Like you, I have suffered with a torn rotator cuff, unfortunately, more than once. It is through my own experiences that I have come to realise the importance of rehab.
Any rotator cuff rehab that you do, ideally following prescribed rotator cuff rehabilitation programs, will improve your chances of a good recovery.
One of the major reasons why so many people have to end up undergoing costly and painful surgery is through not doing any rotator cuff tear rehab. The majority of rotator cuff tears can be treated with rotator cuff rehab. Surgery should always be a last resort apart from the severest of rotator cuff injuries.
What is the point of rotator cuff tear rehab?
Rotator cuff tear rehab is undertaken not necessarily to heal the rotator cuff muscles. Rotator cuff rehabilitation programs are almost always recommended as an initial treatment for a rotator cuff tear. The whole point of any rotator cuff rehab is to improve the function of the muscles that surround the shoulder.
Most people can achieve pain relief and at the same time increase strength and mobility in the shoulder through rotator cuff tear rehab. It can be difficult to grasp the concept that the rotator cuff tear does not necessarily need to heal for pain to be resolved.
However, the truth is that the vast majority of patients who have a rotator cuff tear will not need surgical treatment. What we are trying to do with rotator cuff tear rehab is to relieve the symptoms not necessarily heal the tear.
This can all be achieved by relieving any inflammation that may be in the rotator cuff tendons and the shoulder in general. Then once this has been successfully dealt with a program to restore the shoulder joint can be commenced. This is so important, as although pain may diminish with time, a tear left without intervention will simply get worse.
So there are a few different stages to be gone through. What I want to concentrate on now is the initial period immediately following a rotator cuff tear. The following sections deal more specifically with general rotator cuff rehab, rotator cuff surgery rehab and rotator cuff strengthening.
Immediately after a rotator cuff tear
If you suspect you have suffered a rotator cuff injury; get it checked out immediately.
Any acute or recently occurred rotator cuff injury needs prompt attention.
With a few simple tests a doctor should be able to verify that the rotator cuff is torn, a particularly good doctor may even be able to specify the particular tendon affected.
The initial diagnosis can then be verified by use of an mri or ultrasound.
So you have a rotator cuff tear what happens now?
- Rest - Try to not use the affected shoulder unless exercising. Use a sling if you can and hold the arm in towards the body. Certainly put no strain on the shoulder and avoid any movements above head height.
- Ice - Treat the affected shoulder regularly with ice. This will help with pain relief and also inflammation. Do not apply ice for prolonged periods as this can cause other problems 20 minutes max.
- Heat - after a few days have past and regular icing has occurred try the application of heat, some find this soothes pain.
- Pain killers - Take some pain relief, it will help.
- Cortisone - Possibly will not be offered immediately but it will help with symptoms in the period after the initial injury.
- Physical therapy - As soon as possible commence rehab. Try to see a physical therapist immediately. Early intervention can reduce inflammation, scarring and stop the tear getting any worse.
The therapist should show you the best exercises for rotator cuff injury. He should advise starting immediately, but slowly, with passive motion exercises, those in which the shoulder is supported and under no strain.
You should also be shown a selection of rotator cuff stretches. All of this work is designed to quickly and painlessly restore a full range of movement.
Hope these tidbits prove helpful in your rotator cuff tear rehab.