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Rotator Cuff Injuries Are Common and Treatable

Updated on June 20, 2012

What Is A Rotator Cuff?

 The shoulder is a joint that is made up of three main bones held together by a group of muscles, tendons and ligaments. The first of the bones is the upper bone of the arm is called the Humerus and the other two are the Clavicle or collarbone and the Scapula better known as the shoulder blade. The Rotator Cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in the shoulder that keeps the Humerus in the shoulder socket. The range of motion, the lifting and twisting, the shoulder allows us to have is only possible because of the Rotator Cuff. But it is also because of the range of motion it allows that injuries or disorders can occur. This is especially true in athletes or people who work in physically demanding jobs but can has been know to happen by lifting as little as a suitcase.

How Rotator Cuff Injuries Occur

Rotator Cuff injuries occur for various reasons. As we get older, normal wear and tear begins to take its toll and thinning or fraying of the tendons can occur along with reduced blood supply. Overuse of the shoulder is another common reason for Rotator Cuff injuries. Occupations such as painters have a high likelyhood of having a Rotator Cuff related injury due to the constant use of the shoulders while rolling or spraying the paint. It is also a very common injury for people who play baseball due to the strain that is placed on the shoulder to throw the ball but is not limited to throwing related sports. Swimming and tennis are also know activities associated with Rotator Cuff related disorders.

Whether by normal wear and tear or overuse, the wear on the area can cause the tendon to begin to rub on the bone. This is called an impingement. The impingement irritates the tendon causing it to bleed and become inflamed. Over time, the healthy tissue once inside the Rotator Cuff is replaced by scar tissue and the area becomes stiff and much more susceptible to injury.

Treatments For Rotator Cuff Injuries

If you feel you have a shoulder injury, it is strongly recommended you seek treatment as soon as possible. Treatments may vary from using ice or heat to having it surgically repaired and can only be determined by a doctor.

If it is determined by your doctor that surgery is not necessary, be sure to review all treatments he feels will be best to relieve pain and gain strength without causing further damage. Whatever the treatment, it is strongly recommended you rest the shoulder and stop any activity that causes you pain. You may also take anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil or Aleve to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Review an exercise program with your doctor when the time is right to begin strengthening the shoulder and help prevent injuries in the future.

Go to the Rotator Cuff Healing Center to find out more on these types of exercise programs.

My Personal Experience With A Rotator Cuff Injury

This Hub was written from a personal experience I had with a rotator cuff injury. It was one of the most painful and agonizing experiences I have ever gone through.  Luckily I was able to recover without surgery but many people are not that lucky.  In an attempt to help others, I have even started a website to raise awareness of optional treatments that are available besides surgery or taking a handful of medication everyday. The website is called Rotator Cuff Healing Center and if you are suffering from a shoulder injury that does not need to be surgically repaired, I recommend you use it to get some great information about how you can rehabilitate the injury more efficiently. 

You can read the full story on my injury below or you can read the shorter version on my website.  But I think it's important that you know about my personal experience and how you may be able to avoid going through the same agony and expense that I did.

When I was much younger, in my early 20's and still playing baseball, I developed a nagging pain in my shoulder when I threw the ball. Eventually it became so painful that I could barely lift my arm over my head. That's when I finally thought it was time to see my doctor.  At the first exam, ex-rays they had taken showed my arm to be almost normal.  This was strange since I was in so much pain.  Then one of the doctors recommended I have an ex-ray taken while holding a 10 pound weight in my hand. The results were shocking. Just ten pounds in my hand revealed a weakness in my rotator cuff that was so bad, my arm was literally out of socket by over one inch.

Luckily, it was determined by two doctors that I would be able to rehab my shoulder without surgery and I was very relieved. But the next six months of my life were so painful and costly that there were times I must admit I wished I would have just had the surgery.

The treatments began quickly with me first having to quit playing baseball, of couse.  The actual treatments started with a series of ultrasound and heat treatments to try and relax the tension of the muscles and tendons holding the shoulder in place. That was the easy part.  Due to the nature of my particular injury, I was then subjected to many deep massage treatments in an attempt to move a strand of ligaments that normally cover the top of the shoulder but had fallen across the front. This was perhaps the most painful thing I have ever been subjected to and I did not look forward to the treatments at all. To make it worse, I had to go for treatment 3 or 4 times a week at a cost of $25 per visit. Painful and expensive, what a great combination.

As the months went on and the shoulder began to heal, the treatments became more tolerable and I had to see the process through to the end. After six long months, the doctors finally released me.  I was instructed not to play baseball again unless I wanted to have the same thing happen again. But after only a month of doing nothing but coaching, I just couldn't take it and started playing again. Fortunately for me, I had no further complications from my previous injury and was able to enjoy playing baseball for a few more years.

What's Your Next Step To Recovery?

I have shared with you common ways rotator cuff injuries occur, how they are treated and my own personal experience with this extremely painful disorder. If any of the symptoms or descriptions mentioned in this Hub could describe what you are feeling, it may be time to get a medical opinion of how bad the damage is.

Go see your doctor and begin treatment as quickly as possible. Rotator cuff injuries are very much treatable and are much more efficient today than they were twenty years ago when I went through my treatments.

If you are lucky enough not to need surgery to have your shoulder repaired, I recommend using a program specifically designed for rehabilitating the rotator cuff and not generic type workouts. That is why I have included the two wonderful programs on my website:

Rotator Cuff Healing Center

Thanks for taking the time here today. Best of luck with your injury and continued health in the future.



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