Rotator cuff tears are a common shoulder injury that occurs when the muscles that support the shoulder are damaged. The appropriate treatment for tears depends on the severity of the injury.
For mild tears, conservative treatments can be enough for the shoulder to heal. During the healing process, it will be important to limit movement and weight on that shoulder since it could worsen the tear. Pain medications and icing your shoulder can make the healing process more comfortable. Your doctor will want to evaluate your shoulder at regular intervals to determine if the injury is improving and what activities you can begin doing with your shoulder. Once your shoulder starts to improve, simple exercises, such as stretching, can improve range of motion in your shoulder and minimize stiffness.
Physical therapy can be important for helping you regain full use of your shoulder, even after mild tears. The therapist will want you to perform exercises that help strengthen the muscles and supporting tissues surrounding the shoulders, which can reduce the risk of another tear in the future. In the beginning, exercises, such as lateral raises, are good for strengthening the top and back of the shoulder. You will start by using little, if any, weight and progress to perform the exercises using heavier weights. If push-ups are not harmful to your shoulder, they can also help because they can improve strength at the front of your shoulder. When all the muscles surrounding the shoulder are strengthened, it is less likely any single group of muscles will be overburdened and become injured.
Sometimes rotator cuff injuries do not heal properly and cause ongoing problems, or the initial injury is a severe tear or the tendon may rip off entirely. This must be repaired with surgery. When the surgical procedure is straightforward, the surgeon can simply repair the tendon with sutures. Either a arthroscopic or open approach can be used. Some tears cannot be repaired by suturing the original tendon and require removal of a donor tendon from elsewhere in the body to complete the repair. The goal of surgery is not only to repair the problem, but to have the muscles and joint function as normally as possible. Sometimes rotator cuff injuries can eventually lead to arthritis in the shoulder because it may be difficult to repair the injury and have the shoulder work perfectly.
Many rotator cuff tears heal on their own with rest and conservative treatment. For major tears, surgery is necessary to repair the problem and regain normal use of the shoulder. Visit a site like christophercschmidtmd.com for more help.