Torn Rotator Cuff Treatment - Exercise Or Rest?
What is important with any type of torn rotator cuff treatment is to rest and let the tear begin to heal. Carrying on through the pain of a rotator cuff is only going to leave you requiring surgery as you do more damage to the muscles, so rest is the first thing that you need to do.
Yes is the right answer but not in that order. A lot depends on how badly you have torn it. Most cuff tears will respond to rest and exercise but any serious partial tear or full thickness tear may need corrective before you do any therapy exercise.
What is important with any torn rotator cuff treatment is to rest the muscle and let the tear begin to heal. Carrying on through rotator cuff pain is only going to leave you booking corrective surgery as you do more damage to the muscles, so rest is the first thing that you need to do.
At the same time as rest, you need to reduce the inflammation before you can think about beginning any kind of exercise. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that help to stabilise the shoulder joint by pulling the head of the upper arm bone into the socket of the shoulder. They are small but important muscles that surround the shoulder joint forming a cuff of muscle that helps to support it, in doing so they run over and sometimes under the shoulder bones.
Any inflammation to these muscles can cause pain as the inflamed tendon can catch or impinge on bone. A classic example of this is the supraspinatus muscle which runs under the collar bone and the acromion of the shoulder blade. When this muscle swells it catches on the channel of bone and start to fray. Worst case scenario is that it could eventually snap leaving you needing corrective surgery.
So let the muscles rest. This means steering clear of any movement that is painful. If your job involves a lot of overhead movement you might need to modify the way in which you work. If you sit at a desk, you might need to change the setup of your desk to avoid reaching or stretching movements with the damaged arm. It might even be necessary to take a few days off to rest the arm properly.
At the same times start to treat the inflammation. You could do this by using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen and also by using ice packs on the damaged muscle to help to reduce the swelling. If symptoms persist it may be necessary to have a cortisone injection into the muscle to reduce the inflammation. Your doctor should be able to do this for you.
When the muscle has started to settle down you can start simple exercises aimed at strengthening your rotator cuff muscles. Do not rush off to the gym thinking that any type of exercise will do the trick. It won't. Pushing weights before the muscle has healed properly is likely to cause more damage.
Rotator cuff exercises use little or no weight when recovering from an injury. They will start with gentle exercises that should not cause any pain. If you feel pain or discomfort when exercising stop immediately as this is an indication of further damage being done. It may be that you started exercising too soon.
And finally, when your shoulder is better and back to its full pain free movement, don't just give up on the exercises. Rotator cuff injuries are common but most of them can be avoided by keeping the rotator cuff muscles strong so just take five or ten minutes a day to keep them happy.
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If you want to know how torn rotator cuff treatment stopped me needing surgery check out my story at my blog