Treating Rotator Cuff Injury: A Guide to Pain Relief and Improved Mobility

A rotator cuff injury is a muscle tear connecting the humerus to the shoulder girdle. These muscles are responsible for arm motion and range of movement, essential for completing daily tasks. You may experience sharp, throbbing pain and limited motion if you have a rotator cuff injury.

Choosing an effective treatment for a rotator cuff injury is crucial to improve your motion range and alleviating pain. There is no point in spending significant money on a treatment that doesn’t yield results. 

In this regard, we have outlined some of the best treatment options to help you regain mobility and reduce discomfort caused by a rotator cuff injury. Now, let’s discuss the symptoms of rotator cuff injury in detail below.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Injury

First, you must understand the symptoms to ensure the correct rotator cuff injury treatment to ensure positive results. This way, you can visit your doctor immediately before the situation becomes uncontrollable. Here are the following symptoms:

  • Pain

Pain is usually the first and most common symptom of a rotator cuff injury. It is usually experienced as a dull ache in the shoulder that becomes more intense with certain movements or activities. The pain can also be sharp and sudden, radiating down the arm. The pain becomes constant in severe cases and interferes with daily activities.

  • Weakness

Experiencing weakness in the arm is another common symptom of a rotator cuff injury. It can make lifting and carrying objects difficult, reaching for items, or performing overhead activities like throwing a ball.

  • Stiffness

Stiffness is another symptom of rotator cuff injury and can occur due to inflammation or disuse. This stiffness can make it difficult to move the arm in certain directions or to perform certain activities.

  • Limited Range of Motion

Limited motion is a common symptom of rotator cuff injuries. It can make it difficult to lift the arm above the head, reach behind the back, or perform other activities that require a full range of motion. Sometimes, the range of motion is severely restricted, and the arm may feel locked or frozen.

Conservative Treatment Options

If you are looking for non-surgical rotator cuff pain treatment, the best option is a conservative treatment process. Though there are many subcategories of such treatment processes, which are discussed in detail below.

  • RICE Therapy

You need to give your arms an appropriate amount of rest so that the muscle tissues can regenerate and heal themselves. Once the tissues are healed, you won’t feel the pain anymore, and the torn rotator cuffs will start behaving as expected. However, you also need to apply cold compression so that the inflammation can subside, significantly reducing the aches and pains.

  • Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy improves the range of motion and deals with immobility and stiffness in the shoulder joint due to rotator cuff injury. Ideally, the physiotherapist facilitates the alternative contraction and relaxation of the shoulder region’s tendons and other muscle fibres to help you move your arms in different directions.

  • Medications

You must also take medicine to avoid discomfort and aches throughout the day. Since the rotator cuff muscles usually take at least a week to heal without surgery, the analgesics will keep the pain under control and tolerable.

  • Injection Therapy 

If you want a faster recovery process from a muscle injury, you can opt for a steroid injection. It can reduce the shoulder region’s inflammation and boost tissue regeneration for torn rotator cuff muscles when administered.

Surgical Treatment Options

  • Arthroscopic Surgery

Arthroscopic surgery is the best rotator cuff injury treatment. It is a process where the doctor will insert a tiny camera fitted at the top of a flexible tube known as the arthroscope. 

This camera will help the professionals to keep an eye on the internal structures and find the exact location of the tier in the rotator cuff muscles. Since it is a minimally invasive surgery, you won’t have to worry about long-term recovery or internal damage to the surrounding organs.

  • Open Surgery

When you sustain a severe injury, it may be necessary to undergo open surgery. During this procedure, the surgeons will make a large incision and cut through all the layers of muscle until they reach the affected area. 

It makes the muscles and tendons that connect the arms to the shoulder bones accessible for better treatment. However, due to the complex nature of this type of surgery, the success rate may be slightly lower compared to less invasive arthroscopic surgery.

  • Rehabilitation 

After the surgery, you need to immobilize your arms so that the tissues are generated and heal themselves faster. Injuring yourself further after surgery will worsen your condition. Also, you need to improve your arm mobility through passive exercises, which are done in rehabilitation centres.

  • Recovery and Rehabilitation 

A proper recovery and rehabilitation lifestyle provides immediate rotator cuff pain relief without further complications. The rehabilitation duration depends on the type of surgery you have undergone, the extent of the injuries you sustained, and the areas where the tears are present.

That’s why performing appropriate exercises can help increase the arms’ mobility and prevent stiffness. There are two phases of rehabilitation for rotator cuff injury.

  1. First, the doctor will immobilize your arms so you don’t move the limbs and cause further tissue damage.
  2. The second is starting a passive exercise routine to improve overall mobility and motion range.

Although there are no such potential complications for the recovery and rehabilitation phase, you should be aware of internal contamination after open surgery. You should also be aware of intramuscular bleeding and connect with the doctor immediately.

You need to take a lot of rest after the surgery is completed, allowing your arms and shoulder joints to heal themselves quickly without further problems. In addition, cold compression, passive exercises, and physiotherapy will help restore mobility and ease the pain. 

Conclusion 

Out of all the rotator cuff injury treatments, arthroscopic surgery has a 95% success rate for minor injuries. You must follow a proper rehabilitation and recovery routine after the surgery if you want higher success. 

Besides, you must ensure the doctor you choose is a certified professional with enough experience in the same field. Also, try to follow some preventive measures so you won’t have to deal with the injury and undergo a surgical procedure.

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