There probably isn’t a part of the body that we could really describe as dispensable. We have numerous joints, bones, and organs because every single one performs some sort of function that supports optimal health, mechanics, and wellness. The rotator cuff is one that we’d like to discuss here.
The rotator cuff is a part of the shoulder. It is a structure that contains four small tendons. These tendons secure the ball of the shoulder joint in its socket. Simple, right? When the shoulder is functioning well, it seems so. However, the rotator cuff often carries the brunt of enormous force and repetitive motion. The tendons and muscles around the rotator cuff can become strained as a result. Ultimately, they could fail, leading to poor shoulder joint mechanics, arm or shoulder weakness, and pain.
Rotator cuff injuries can prevent you from performing work or engaging in activities you enjoy. Fortunately, strain to this part of the shoulder can often recover without surgery. However, it is vital that conservative therapy begin right away.
Stages of Rotator Cuff Injury
Outside of extraordinary circumstances, a rotator cuff injury generally has three stages. The first stage involves tendonitis, the inflammation of the tendons associated with the rotator cuff. This is a stage that can be resolved relatively simply with conservative care. Untreated, tendonitis becomes tendinosis, which describes degeneration within the rotator cuff. This stage is followed by the third, in which the rotator cuff tears.
The first two stages of injury can typically be treated without surgery. Injections, medication, and physical therapy may be used in combination to successfully repair the shoulder. Even smaller tears may be treatable with conservative approaches. Larger tears or a complete tear through the rotator cuff needs surgery for optimal repair. After rotator cuff surgery, a patient will require physical therapy to rehabilitate the joint.
Shoulder Pain Needs Attention
Fleeting shoulder pain may go away without much discomfort or frustration. However, it is crucial to pay attention to recurring or chronic shoulder pain. A rotator cuff injury may look like:
- Difficulty putting on a shirt.
- Pain when reaching overhead or behind.
- A sensation of weakness in the shoulder.
- Waking up with shoulder pain during the night or after a night’s sleep.
- Constant shoulder pain.