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How to Mend Your Rotator Cuff Injury

Updated on October 25, 2012

The rotator cuff consists of 4 small muscles situated close to the ball and socket joint of your shoulder (Glenohumeral joint). These muscles are connected individually to a group of flat tendons, which combine together and surround the front, back, and top of the shoulder joint like a cuff on a shirt. Individuals often injure one particular muscle and/or tendon of their rotator cuff (the most common diagnosis being Supraspinatus Tendonitis).

 

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The Muscles of Your Rotator Cuff

What Muscles are a Part of Your Rotator Cuff & How Do They Work?

Supraspinatus

This muscle is the uppermost portion of the rotator cuff and permits lateral movement away from the midline of the body, allowing you to move your upper arm up the side and away from you. When your arm is raised in a forward position, this tendon and supporting bursa can be pinched which causes them to become inflamed and swollen.

Subscapularis

This muscle is the internal, medial rotator that is located at the front of your shoulder and allows you to move your upper arm inward and toward the center of your body.

Infraspinatus & Teres Major

Each muscle respectively is an external, lateral rotator that is located at the back of the shoulder. The Infraspinatus and Teres Major each maintain dynamic joint stability and allow you to move your upper arm outward and away from the center of your body.

Rotator cuff injuries may occur due to an acute trauma of some sort, or from a repetitive overhead motion (which often occurs due to sporting activities, work tasks or daily chores).

Symptoms

What Symptoms Should You Expect?

You may experience pain immediately after a shoulder injury and it is not unusual for individuals with a rotator cuff injury to have recurring inflammation and swelling. You may feel pain on top of and in front of your shoulder, which will radiate down the outside of your upper arm (the deltoid area). This pain will intensify when you do activities that require overhead or forward reaching movements. Individuals also experience more pain at night, especially while lying on the affected shoulder. Of course the amount of pain you experience will depend on the severity of your injury. Over time you will notice a loss of mobility and/or decrease in range of motion due to your rotator cuff injury. You may also experience "crepitus" - clicking, grating, crackling or popping sounds from your shoulder joint when you move your upper arm around.

There are also different symptoms that occur depending on the type of rotator cuff injury that you have:

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis or Bursitis

You will generally experience some of the aforementioned symptoms, as well as red, sore, and swollen tendons or bursa. There will be a gradual onset of pain, which will flare up when you move your shoulder in any way (especially overhead or to the side). The pain will originate from deep inside of your shoulder and you may hear a mild popping or crackling in your shoulder joint (this specifically indicates rotator cuff bursitis).

Rotator Cuff Instability

You may feel your arm slipping in and out of your shoulder socket, or you may experience a "dead arm' feeling when you raise your arm over your head or move it away from your body. If you have dislocated your shoulder, your arm bone will slip or be forced out of the socket, resulting in immediate inflammation, loss of mobility and a possible tear of your tendon(s). If this occurs, seek medical attention immediately.

Rotator Cuff Strain or Tear

Your pain may be targeted in a few specific areas, especially when you lift your arm overhead or away from your body.

Acute Rotator Cuff Tear

This occurs due to a traumatic injury and will result in a sharp and sudden pain, snapping sensation and an immediate weakness in your arm. This sharp pain will usually last for a few days, however other symptoms may last indefinitely. Your range of motion will decrease immediately as a result of muscle spasm, bleeding or pain.

Chronic Rotator Cuff Tear

This will typically occur on your dominant side and you may notice that your shoulder muscles will weaken and atrophy (decrease in muscle mass). The stiffness and pain in your shoulder will get worse over time and your range of motion will also decrease until you are unable to lift your arm out to the side or over your head.

Easy At-Home Treatments to Avoid Surgery

What Treatments are Available to Mend Your Rotator Cuff Injury?

Without a course of treatment your rotator cuff tear could lead to severe Tendinitis or Bursitis. It is important that you receive the treatment you need in order to prevent re-injury.

ColdCure® Technology



As soon as your shoulder is injured your body triggers natural events that isolate damaged tissue and prepare it for healing. The main symptoms you will immediately feel after injury - the swelling, redness (rubor), heat (calor), pain (dolor), and loss of function - are really just signs that your body is starting to heal.

Unfortunately when your rotator cuff is swollen and inflamed the damaged tissue is blocking vital blood flow from coming into to continue the natural healing process. When your blood flow is blocked, the other healthy tissue in your shoulder is starved of oxygen, nutrients and antibodies needed for your healthy tissue to thrive and for your injured meniscus to heal. This is why it's never good to let a new injury stay untreated for too long.

Using cold compression immediately following a rotator cuff tear, re-injury, or surgery reduces pain and swelling and reduces the tissue damage that occurs with shoulder injuries.

Click here to learn more about
ColdCure® Tehcnology



Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy



What can be done for your shoulder when the swelling is gone, but the pain is still there? Once the swelling is gone your shoulder is starving for the naturally occurring oxygen, nutrients, antibodies and energy available in our blood. Blood flow is like the life force of our bodies, and the healing process really takes off only when your shoulder receives proper blood flow.

If you want to heal quickly you need to keep your blood flow moving constantly, but you also need to make sure your shoulder is actively getting rid of cellular waste and toxins. This is where BFST® comes in, but what exactly is BFST® and how can it help to accelerate healing?

BFST® is exactly what it seems - it's a therapy that substantially increases the flow of blood to your rotator cuff without the need to exercise your already damaged tissue.

Think about your injured shoulder as if it is a sponge that has dried out. Your rotator cuff tear is waiting there ready to absorb all of the benefits of increased blood flow but your body is unable to keep up with the demand of what your shoulder needs. BFST® boosts your body's natural blood flow, delivering oxygen, nutrients, antibodies and energy directly to the source of your pain. Once you start receiving all of the benefits BFST® has to offer your injured shoulder becomes like a sponge that now has enough blood flow within reach to soak up everything good that is in your blood flow. Increased blood flow through BFST® also acts as a cleanser for your tissue, whisking away all toxins and cellular waste.

Click here to learn more about
Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy

Treating Your Rotator Cuff Injury!

Products available on Amazon to help with your Meniscus Injury!

Getting Rid of Your Shoulder Pain

Surgery

When is Surgery an Option & What Surgical Prodcedures Mend Rotator Cuff Injuries?

A rotator cuff tear cannot heal completely without surgery; however satisfactory function can often be achieved without an operation. If you continue to experience pain, swelling or inflammation after administering the abovementioned treatments, you may require a surgery. The type of surgery that you require will depend on the size, shape and location of your injury. An orthopedic surgeon will determine which surgery is most suited for your condition.

Anthroscopic Surgery

This surgery involves inserting a small fiber optic camera into tiny incisions around your shoulder joint. The surgeon will then be able to investigate all of the soft tissues and bones inside of your joint. This will allow the surgeon to make a diagnosis and perform the repair immediately. Repairs will be made by removing dead, damaged, or infected tissue or shaving/removal of bone spurs and fragments that can catch when you rotate your arm.



Traditional Open Repair

This surgery is often preferred if you have a complex or full thickness rotator cuff tear. The surgeon will use sutures to help attach the tendon back to the tissue or bone.

The terms Inferno Wrap®, Freezie Wrap®, and MendMeShop® are registered trademarks of In.Genu Design Group Inc.

The terms BFST®, Energy Web®, and ColdCure® are registered trademarks of King Brand Healthcare Products Ltd.

If you have any questions about rotator cuff injuries please feel free to comment on our Lens. You can also reach one of our MendMeShop Advisors directly via phone or e-mail at service@mendmeshop.com

Please note that comments are directed by e-mail to one of our MendMeShop Advisors. This allows us to receive your comments and respond to your queries as soon as possible. If you do not see your comment as soon as you have posted do not be discouraged, your comment will most likely appear along with our response in due time.

We look forward to hearing from you!

The MendMeShop Advisor Team :)

Rotator Cuff Injury Questions & Comments

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    • MendMeShop LM profile image
      Author

      MendMeShop LM 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hello Mark;

      My name is Louise from MendMeShop and I am truly sorry to hear of your pain and lack of mobility in your shoulder. I can totally relate to your injury. I have a full thickness tear in my rotator cuff and experience some of the same issues with mobility and pain. The one thing you want to do is prevent a Frozen Shoulder from occurring, if this happens you will lose all mobility and experience more pain. I currently use the Inferno Wrap to prevent Frozen Shoulder and maintain what mobility I have. The only thing that is going to heal my shoulder is surgery and I just can't take six months off work. MendMeShop has products that will help to prevent frozen shoulder and heal tears up to 50%.

      The Inferno Wrap helps to heal tears in tendons by producing electromagnetic energy this energy is absorbed by the muscles, tendons and ligaments. This in turn creates vasodilation so it relaxes the vessel walls and allows the blood flow to go the site of the injury. By enhancing blood flow increasing levels of oxygen and nutrients therefore promoting complete healing. It also gives elasticity and strengthens the tendons and ligaments in the supraspinatus tendon. Please visit our website www.aidmyrotatorcuff.com for further information regarding the Inferno Wrap and Blood Flow Stimulation.

      If you experience a lot of inflammation we also have a shoulder freezie wrap. This will help to bring down the inflammation and relieve the pain. This is a Neoprene wrap that has gel inserts which are kept in the refrigerator and worn for 20 minutes at a time to bring down swelling. What it does is numbs the nerve endings, relieves pain and swelling and it stops the blood flow.

      In regards, to your questions I'm not medically qualified to answer them but you should definitely ask the specialist you are going to see. These are three important questions regarding your recovery.

      I sincerely hope you find resolution to your injury and pain in the very near future.

      Regards,

      Louise

      MendMeShop

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Could you advise me please

      I had a bad fall onto my elbow around two months ago and according to an ultrasound scan I just had I have a torn suprapinatus tendon. How bad the tear is I do not know as the report from the scan was not specific. For a time the arm was more or less completely immobile around the shoulder - with physio it improved so I could with effort raise my arm above shoulder level. During physio or in other ways I did too much or the wrong movements I think aone point and the arm movement became worse. AIt has improved again following that but not to the same level yet. I stopped physio when it got worse in case it was making things worse. I have three specific questions

      1. Does the fact I can't move my arm above shoulder level mean in itself I have a very bad or complete tear of the tendon?

      2. If the tear is not a complete tear but is instead medium or small can I expect to regain somewhere near normal strength of the arm after a long focus on physiotherapy and care.

      3. Lastly just lately I have noticed I have a dead arm for a minute or two after waking which disappears after a couple of minutes - as if circulation is returning. Is this a critical worry or am I ok to leave this a week or so to discuss at an appointment I have planned with a shoulder specialist.

      I hope you can help - this seems a worrying time and hard to weigh up what the position really is with these things.

      Thanks in advance for your help

    • MendMeShop LM profile image
      Author

      MendMeShop LM 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hello Heidi,

      It is always recommended to consult with a medical professional when experiencing any type of lasting pain or discomfort.

      Once a proper diagnosis is made, then a plan to overcome the problems can be made.

      MendMeShop

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have pain in the deltoid area with popping or crepitus with movement. The pain is tolerable should I go to the Dr?

    • MendMeShop LM profile image
      Author

      MendMeShop LM 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Karen,

      The first course of action will be to consult with your doctor in terms of obtaining a proper diagnosis on what is happening with your shoulder.

      From what you describe, one could come to the conclusion that potentially nerve related issues are a factor, so a referral to an appropriate specialist would be ideal at this time.

      MendMeShop

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i had an ultrasound on r.shoulder theanterior fibres are attenuated and very thin and a possible partial tear i cannot lift anything and 2005 ihad the rotor cuff op.on by fowler clinic in london ont.My doc.said only to do exer. .do u think i should have mri or what can i do

    • MendMeShop LM profile image
      Author

      MendMeShop LM 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Ron,

      We would strongly recommend consulting with your doctor once again. Until you obtain an accurate diagnosis on what is happening, you will not be able to implement a course of action to overcome the shoulder issues.

      Paul

      MendMeShop

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      hi . ive had a problem with my right shoulder for about 20 months now and still very painful to the point i can't sleep proper at night . i get pins and needles and weakness and also pain in my elbow . do you think i might need surgery and do they put you under local or knock you out :( im sick of it now as im in constant pain :(

    • MendMeShop LM profile image
      Author

      MendMeShop LM 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Susan,

      In having consulted with two orthopaedic surgeons, you are certainly on the right track. Unfortunately for you, the surgeons offered differing opinions.

      There are surgeons who specialize in shoulder injuries and this would be the next logical step to take and hopefully provide the answers you need.

      We would suggest you consult with your family doctor for a referral and take it from there.

      Paul

      MendMeShop.com

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      what would be the best type of doctor to see to get a proper diagnosis of a shoulder problem. I've had a frozen shoulder for 20 months with a rotater cuff tear, one surgeon wanted to do a manipulation under anesthesia as well as an arthroscopy and another said to wait and it would be better after 18 months, well the frozen shoulder is slightly better but the rotator cuff is still painful-who do I see next?

    • MendMeShop LM profile image
      Author

      MendMeShop LM 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Sandy,

      The first course of action I would personally take would be to obtain a proper diagnosis on the extent of the injury/condition at this time. Until it is determined what you are truly dealing with, then implementing treatment protocols in the mean time may be beneficial, but may not be.

      Judging by the fact you have been dealing with this issue for 5 years now and have likely tried numerous techniques and products up until this point, obtaining a proper diagnosis is more imperative than ever.

      Paul

      MendMeShop.com

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi, I have had a frustrating problem with my shoulder for around 5 years now. The issue is centred around my deltoid on my left shoulder. I used to weight-lift a lot from the ages of 14-17 and started to regularly pull my left deltoid as a result of exercising before I completely stopped exercising. As my left deltoid would pull very often after exercise, it was restricting me receiving any benefit from training so I decided to quit until the muscle would properly heal. I didn't heal however. Now when I raise my left arm to the side higher than 90 degrees, my deltoid starts to twitch and feels very uncomfortable, but not painful, like it is about to pull. If I hold it in that position for long enough it will pull. When I relax it, the twitching eventually stops. I cannot train any more as I will certainly pull this muscle. I have tried physiotherapy but that has not helped at all. I am running out of options now and am desperate to solve this issue. All I want to do it train again. Is there any advice you could give me or do you have any idea of what the problem could be?