Rotator Cuff Rehabilitation Could Be Easier Than You Think
Having torn my rotator cuff at the end of last year I have discovered a fair bit about rotator cuff rehabilitation. The thing that surprised me most was just how much exercise featured in rehabilitation of all rotator cuff damage.
Having torn my rotator cuff towards the end of last year I have researched a fair amount about rotator cuff rehabilitation. The thing that surprised me most was how much exercise featured in rehabilitation of any rotator cuff damage.
I tore my cuff fairly badly, lifting some furniture that was too heavy. I rather foolishly lifted with my left arm completely straight, putting all of the weight on my shoulder. Pop...That was me out of action for a while. No more golf for me!
I tried carrying on for several days hoping that it was nothing more than a strain and that it would sort itself out. Now, with the benefit of hindsight and more knowledge, I realise that was the worst thing I could have done. Where I had torn my rotator cuff, the inflammation had brought on a shoulder impingement and every time that I lifted my arm above shoulder height, the tendon was getting impinged or pinched against the bone and getting damaged even more.
In summary, after a couple of visits to my local doctor and a trip or two to hospital for investigation, I was found to have torn my rotator cuff and in the process I had developed the shoulder impingement. Because of how bad the problem was I was recommended for surgery, a sub-acromial decompression to be exact. The idea was to cut away a piece of bone to give the trapped tendon room to move. As I was in the UK there was the inevitable waiting list, in my case it was three months long.
So while I was waiting I started to read up about my injury and discovered that most rotator cuff injuries do not require surgery. If you have managed to get a full thickness tear, there is no way of avoiding it but a lot of partial injuries can be sorted out without. It is always worth getting yourself checked out just to see exactly what you are dealing with.
I discovered that total rest of the joint is the key. Not the half-hearted rest that I had been doing but complete rest of the damaged shoulder. This means avoiding completely any of the movements that causes pain or discomfort, simply because the pain is a sign of more damage being done. Makes sense really!
At the same time as rest, treat the inflammation. Use anti-inflammatory drugs, ice packs even steroid injections if all else fails. Once the tendons have settled down you can start gentle exercises aimed at strengthening the cuff.
Rotator cuff rehabilitation exercises tend to avoid weights and be Pilates based focusing on control and flexibility. Gentle stretching exercises to begin with and then slow controlled exercises.
With nothing to lose I concentrated on resting my arm and then gradually started on the exercises. I found my shoulder started to feel better so I continued using the ice packs twice a day and gradually built up the frequency of the exercises, all the time being careful to avoid anything that caused pain or discomfort. After a couple of weeks I started to feel a real improvement and at the end of six weeks felt completely recovered.
The date for my surgery has gone. I did not have it in the end as my shoulder felt so much better that it seemed pointless. I now do my shoulder exercises for ten minutes every day, on both shoulders, just to be safe. One rotator cuff injury is enough for me.
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