Treatment includes rest, medication, physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, and possibly surgery. Physical therapy is often recommended as an initial treatment for rotator cuff pain. However, physical therapy does not help heal the rotator cuff tendon tear. So why is this often used as a first treatment? Research has shown that if you have a rotator cuff tear, treatment with physical therapy can be as effective as surgery.
Rotator cuff tears are a common source of shoulder pain and functional loss in the arms and upper limbs. Physical therapy can also help you recover after rotator cuff surgery. It's the same idea: improve strength and movement and return to normal life. The therapist will show you how not to injure your shoulder again after surgery.
A physical therapist can help control symptoms of chronic rotator cuff tears as well as improve shoulder function. For large rotator cuff tears that cannot be fully repaired, physical therapists can teach special strategies to improve shoulder movement. However, if physical therapy and conservative treatment alone do not improve your function, surgical options may be available. Physical therapy is usually one of the first treatments suggested.
Exercises tailored to the specific location of the rotator cuff injury can help restore flexibility and strength to the shoulder. Physical therapy is also an important part of the recovery process after rotator cuff surgery. Physical therapy can help heal the intact part of the rotator cuff in the hope of avoiding surgical intervention. In the ideal world, physical therapy for rotator cuff injury involves reducing pain; restoring movement, postural training, and body mechanics; and reconditioning the shoulder so you can come back to life and use your shoulder as you did before.
Conservative treatments, such as rest, ice, and physical therapy, are sometimes all you need to recover from a rotator cuff injury. A physical therapist can help you reduce the worsening symptoms of a rotator cuff tear and may lower your risk of worsening a tear, especially if you seek help at the first sign of shoulder pain or discomfort. The therapist may also choose to use several treatments and modalities to help decrease pain and improve the way the rotator cuff works. It is also important for the physiotherapist to focus on scapular strengthening, since the scapula (shoulder blade) provides the basis for shoulder stability.
Physiotherapy exercises for a rotator cuff tear will be different from those required for general rotator cuff overuse. Although rotator cuff tears don't heal on their own, patients can often avoid surgery by seeking physical therapy for a rotator cuff tear. Once you can remove your sling for exercise, your physical therapist will begin your full rehabilitation program. Pro~PT licensed physical therapists specialize in the evaluation and various types of physiotherapy treatments of rotator cuff injuries.
So what does this mean to you? For starters, if you have shoulder pain due to a torn rotator cuff, you should consider visiting your physical therapist for conservative treatment. The physical therapist will apply treatments during this phase of recovery to reduce pain and begin to restore movement smoothly. The repaired rotator cuff is vulnerable to re-injury after shoulder surgery; working with a physical therapist is crucial to safely regain full use of the injured arm. If a rotator cuff tear is suspected after trauma, seek the attention of a physical therapist or other health care provider to rule out the possibility of serious, life-threatening or limb conditions.
If you have shoulder pain, you may benefit from the specialized services of a physical therapist to help you regain normal range of motion (ROM), strength and function of your shoulder. .