Shoulders are more than just a nice part to show off when you’re wearing a sleeveless top. They are responsible for many everyday actions like helping you reach something off a high shelf, throwing a ball, styling your hair, or swimming in a pool.
The rotator cuff is the most important group of muscles and tendons that allow your shoulder to do all of that movement. It supports and stabilizes your shoulders so you can have a wide range of motion (more than any other joint in the body).
Unfortunately, the rotator cuff is a commonly injured area, and these injuries can make many routine activities difficult and painful. This article will discuss the main types of rotator cuff injuries, their causes, and symptoms.
What Is a Rotator Cuff Injury?
The rotator cuff connects your upper arm bone (humerus) with your shoulder blade (scapula) by holding the ball of your humerus firmly in your shoulder socket. The rotator cuff is what makes your shoulders one of the most flexible joints in your body. Unfortunately, this flexibility is also its weakness, making the shoulders more susceptible to injury.
A rotator cuff injury can mean many different things and includes any irritation or damage to your rotator cuff muscles or tendons.
What Are the Main Rotator Cuff Injury Types?
Rotator cuff injuries can be acute (traumatic) or chronic (ongoing) injuries that happen over time. These injuries include:
Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of the tendons in your rotator cuff caused by overuse. If you have tendinitis, you can feel the pain in the area just outside the joint. Shoulder tendinitis is a common repetitive motion injury for athletes, especially in swimming, baseball, tennis, and volleyball. That’s also the reason why some common types of tendinitis are called swimmer’s shoulder and thrower’s shoulder.
Bursitis is an inflammation or irritation of the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac protecting your rotator cuff. When your bursa gets irritated, it becomes inflamed and grows in size, which means there is less space in the shoulder for muscles and tendons to move around. This can cause pain and a loss of movement in the shoulder.
The bursa can become irritated after long-term repetitive motion, similar to tendinitis. However, bursitis can also be caused by an infection, and the pain will usually manifest with a fever.
Rotator Cuff Tear
A rotator cuff tear is often the result of wear and tear from daily use. Most tears are partial. Painters and carpenters are more likely to have this condition since their job requires them to move their arms a certain way countless times over. Athletes like tennis and baseball players are also prone due to the repetitive force needed in swinging their arms.
A rotator cuff tear can happen to both young and older people, but a complete tear is much more common if you are older. As you age, the muscle and tendon tissue of the rotator cuff loses some elasticity, and due to the inherent poor blood supply to the middle part of the tendon, healing is slow and degenerative changes are often found. Therefore the rotator cuff becomes more susceptible to injuries and is usually damaged while performing everyday activities.
However, for younger individuals, a rotator cuff tear usually happens after a traumatic injury like suddenly falling on your arm or lifting something too heavy for your body.
What Are the Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury?
Depending on the severity of a rotator cuff injury, the symptoms can manifest differently. Some of the most common ways that a rotator cuff injury might present include:
- Dull pain at the back of the shoulder.
- Difficulty raising the arm above the head or reaching out to the side.
- A noticeable restricted range of motion.
- Disrupted sleeping patterns due to shoulder pain at night.
How to Treat a Rotator Cuff Injury?
If your rotator cuff has a complete tear, it can be excruciating and require immediate surgery. However, most rotator cuff injuries are manageable without the need for going under the knife. Aside from physical therapy and over-the-counter medications, chiropractic care can profoundly improve symptoms and shoulder function.
A chiropractor can design a customized rehabilitation treatment that will meet the needs of each patient’s specific rotator cuff injury. In addition, chiropractic care can help strengthen the supporting structures around the rotator cuff, which will, in turn, speed up people’s recovery time after a rotator cuff injury.
We’re Looking Forward to Helping You at Our Chiropractic Offices in NJ!
At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Contact us to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices in Cliffside Park, NJ, and Hackensack, NJ, are ready to welcome you!