You have 4 main muscles and tendons in your shoulder collectively referred to as the rotator cuff. These muscles and tendons secure the shoulder socket and keep your arm connected to your body. The stronger these muscles are, the less likely you are to experience a tear.
If one of the muscle attachments shreds or rips from excessive force or trauma, we call it a rotator cuff tear. Most often people experience micro or incomplete tears which respond well to conservative treatment and therapies.
Am I in danger of having a rotator cuff tear?
You are susceptible to a rotator cuff tear if you do a lot of computer work, you drive or sit a lot, your job or hobby requires you to reach overhead or throw/hit overhand repetitively, or if you have poor posture.
How do I keep my shoulder healthy and pain free?
- Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes
- Do not sleep on the shoulder that you are concerned about
- Avoid pushing or pulling objects when your hands are out of your direct or peripheral vision
- Use ice to treat small aches and pains
- Maintain synergistic muscle strength in the shoulder
If you try these strategies but are still concerned about your shoulder pain, schedule a discovery evaluation with a local physical or occupational therapist who has experience treating shoulder conditions.
Is all shoulder pain due to a rotator cuff tear?
Other things such as impingement, tendinitis or bursitis can feel like a tear and it’s hard to know the difference. Believe it or not, MRI’s and x-rays are not always the best diagnostic tools for shoulder problems. An experienced practitioner who specializes in treating shoulder pain can provide you with reliable information. The best treatment approach can be determined once the underlying cause is identified. If you do have a severe tear, it may not respond to conservative treatment. A trusted therapist will be able to tell you if your condition is too severe for therapy.
What if my shoulder makes noises when I move it?
Clicking and popping can occur for many reasons. If it’s painless, it’s most likely caused by a harmless joint noise known as crepitus. However, if it’s associated with pain it could be due to degenerative arthritis or years of wear and tear. Sometimes clicking and popping can be due to repetitive, over use of the shoulder resulting in bursitis and tendinitis, which can lead to tearing if not remedy. Mild labrum injuries can cause these symptoms as well and can be difficult to diagnosis. A movement specialist, such as a physical or occupational therapist, can help you determine the root cause of the noise and pain.
What should I avoid if I think I could have a rotator cuff tear?
Be wary of steroid/cortisone injections, drugs, or invasive procedures as a first resort. There are several degrees of a tear, (grade 1-4), and in most cases, it’s best to try conservative interventions first. Controlling inflammation and balancing the muscles around the shoulder and thoracic parts of your body can bring good results without many of the side effects or complications that can come from more aggressive treatments.
If you are concerned with a shoulder pain or problem, contact us today to see if any consultations or promotions are available.
Shoulder problems at AilmentsWeTreat.com and WebMD