Rotator Cuff Injury: Shoulder Pain, Prevention and Treatment

27th April 2016

Rotator Cuff Injury

Shoulder Pain Prevention and Treatment

Are you suffering from shoulder pain? Is there a generalised ache and sometimes a sharp shoulder pain? Has your shoulder pain got in the way of your daily routine? Your work? Your sport?

Shoulder injuries, especially rotator cuff injury is a PAIN, and is SO COMMON, especially in those over the age of 30, who regularly carry out repetitive movement with the arm.

rotator cuff injury

I know what you’re thinking.. tennis, squash, table tennis? YES, you’re absolutely right, but that is not only it. Cleaning, ironing, lifting your baby, RUNNING. ANY repetitive movement, when combined with any form of muscle imbalance causes a change in movement, a compensation, and most often injury and pain.

Muscle imbalance = Shoulder instability = Muscle compensation = Further instability = Poor loading = Rotator cuff impingement = Inflammation

So, rotator cuff injury is generally caused by some sort of muscle imbalance that causes shoulder instability, which in turn causes a slip in the position of the shoulder joint, that causes impingement of the rotator cuff tendon/s, inflammation and pain.

What can you do to help?

  • If it is an acute pain (up to 6 weeks) rest it and use ice to break down the inflammation.
  • If it is a chronic pain (over 6 weeks) you may need a physiotherapist to help to break down the scar tissue which would have built up, this will ensure optimal healing.
  • No matter whether it is acute or chronic pain, rehabilitate to ensure the pain doesn’t creep back as soon as you return to the movement that originally aggravated it.

Don’t confuse the AGGRAVATOR with the CAUSE. These two elements are both contributing to your PAIN, so it is not adequate to address one and not the other.

If you address the aggravator, i.e. the movement that HURTS, and not the CAUSE, the pain WILL return, and it WILL keep returning until the CAUSE is addressed. I promise!

Lets talk about the symptoms…. You’ve got pain in the front of the shoulder, sometimes it goes to the outer part of the shoulder too. It hurts to lift your arm up. There’s also a restriction in your movement. Not just because of pain, but just restriction, there’s something blocking your movement, right? Has your shoulder started to feel weak on that side too? This does happen, so if you’re not there yet, GREAT.

Lets treat those symptoms:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Avoid the painful movements
  • Physiotherapy to increase range of movement
  • Physiotherapy to break down scar tissue
  • Physiotherapy to address any other mechanical issues (compensations) that may be contributing to the pain; tight neck, tight around the shoulder blade, tight pecs (chest)… the list is endless, but the treatment you require depends on your individual presentation.

So we’ve treated the symptoms.. your pain has reduced, its not become more of a background discomfort. Do you know why there is still some discomfort? It’s because the cause has not yet fully been addressed. Your shoulder is still unstable, your muscles are still imbalanced, your rotator cuff tendon is still being impinged!!!

I’ll give you a few days to apply the treatment tips I gave you above to get that acute pain settled. Once that is sorted, we can start to address the cause for LONG TERM relief.

Happy Icing 🙂

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