The “rotator cuff” is the group of four muscles and their tendons responsible for keeping your shoulder joint stable. Injuries to the rotator cuff are common—either from accident or trauma, or with repeated overuse of the shoulder. Risk of injury can vary, but generally increases as you age. Rotator cuff tears are more common later in life, but also can occur in younger people. Athletes and heavy laborers are often affected. Older adults can injure the rotator cuff when they fall on or strain the shoulder. When left untreated, a rotator cuff tear can cause severe pain and a decrease in the ability to use your arm.
Once a rotator cuff tear has been diagnosed, you will work with your orthopedist and physical therapist to decide if you should have surgery or if you can try to manage your recovery without surgery.
If you don’t need surgery, your physical therapist will work with you to restore your range of motion, muscle strength, and coordination, so that you can return to your regular activities. In some cases, you may learn to modify your physical activity so that you put less stress on your shoulder. If you decide to have surgery, your physical therapist can help you both before and after the procedure.
Regardless of which treatment you have—physical therapy only, or surgery and physical therapy—prompt treatment can help you speed the healing process and avoid permanent damage. Everest Rehabilitation Services physical therapists will work closely with you to help you strengthen your rotator cuff muscles, train you to avoid potentially harmful positions, and determine when it is appropriate for you to return to your normal activities.