A rotator cuff tear occurs once a shoulder tendon is injured. There are many grades of tear; they are categorized for their shape, size, partial tear, complete tear and the nature of the injury.
The rotator cuff is comprised of a group of four muscles: infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor. The joint that is part of the rotator cuff is the glanohurmerus joint. Beside this muscle there are other muscles like pectorals and rhomboids that are involved in the movement of the shoulder known as the rotator cuff.
We also need to know that our rotator cuff is one of the most active regions in the body with a vast variety of range of motion that allows us to complete some complex movements in our active daily living and many different sport fields.
Rotator Cuff Tear Explained.
A rotator cuff tear commonly is injured due to repetitive use injures. Unnatural tension to a tendon due to muscle imbalance, due to postural issues like tight pectoral muscles, head forwarded posture and kyphosis on the upper spinal region can contribute to this. Wear and tear of tendons can also be a cause of this ailment. Patients with repetitive injuries complain of shoulder bursitis before developing this tear through the tendons. People with rotator cuff tears are not able to lift or rotate their arm and they experience significant pain associated with shoulder movement.
Other common causes to rotator cuff injuries are lack of mobility, inactivity that can lead to stiffness of the shoulder and weakness of the shoulder muscles. Overuse of the shoulder joint after a period of inactivity, poor blood supply to the rotator cuff area (common in increasing age), falling on outstretched arms and a gradual weakening of the shoulder tendons, associated with hyperactivity are also common causes of rotator cuff injuries.
Practitioners like RMTs or Physiotherapists will indicate the injury by testing the range of motion in the shoulder. Partial tear to the rotator cuff can cause pain when the arm is lifted up and in a certain arc. The test can also identify as painful arc syndrome.
A complete tear to the rotator cuff sign and symptoms:
Tightness in the shoulder, limited movement in the shoulder joint, muscle weakness during activity like lifting, catching and cracking sounds, pain during the day and pain at night during sleep which can lead tiredness and insomnia. Pain also can be triggered by specific activity.
Diagnosis is made on the basis of physical examination and some imaging tests. In X-rays, there are some visible signs of tear such as formation of bone spurs and narrowing of the space around the rotator cuff tendons. Some commonly used tests for diagnosis are MRI’s, arthrograms and ultrasounds.
There are surgical and non-surgical treatment options for the treatment of rotator cuff tears. The non-surgical options include a combination of medications and various therapies such as physical therapy and cold therapy. Anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers are helpful in controlling the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear.
Massage therapy can help with balancing muscles in the region, Mild joint mobilization can also get rid of stiffness. Massage therapy can also help with post surgery if there is a complete tear and can help with scar tissue, increasing the range of motion and over all maintenance of the shoulder girdle. As a therapist, I have been treating clients with shoulder injuries, painful rotator cuff symptoms and muscle imbalance of the upper trunk. I have learned that massage therapy is a better approach to correct the underlying problems like muscle imbalance, through trigger point therapy and joint mobilization, these treatments can be a safe and smart choice to treat a common injury such as pain in the rotator cuff.
RMT – Vancouver, BC