In the physical therapy business, regardless of the time of year, we see plenty of patients complaining of shoulder pain. Most shoulder pain occurs following repetitive movements. These cause wear and tear that breaks down the rotator cuff tendons. Activities such as raking leaves and shoveling are common culprits that send people to seek medical attention for shoulder pain. In addition, injuries that involve lifting can also cause increased pain in the shoulders.
The rotator cuff is made up of four small muscles that control movement and provide stability of the shoulder joint. Collectively, these muscles are referred to as the ‘rotator cuff’. Your shoulder is made up of:
The rotator cuff ensures that your arm bone moves normally in the socket and you are able to do activities such as raising your arm overhead, behind your back, and throw a ball. The muscles of the rotator cuff attach to the shoulder bone via tendons.
When the tendons have been overused or an injury occurs that causes excessive force through the tendons, they can tear. Tendons will either partially tear or completely tear. A tear is described in ‘degrees’ and the degree of tear is determined by the muscles affected and the thickness of the tear.Repetitive overhead motions are the most common cause of tears which is why the frequency of rotator cuff tears among construction workers and baseball players is high.As with many issues, the risk for rotator cuff tears increases with age.
If you start feeling any of the above symptoms, you should address that issue immediately! Usually, if you see your primary care physician or orthopedist they will refer you to physical therapy to see if conservative management can restore your function.
Your therapist will be able to perform an evaluation and discuss what is causing your pain or injury. They will then put together an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your specific goals and needs. If you are feeling any kind of pain or discomfort in your shoulder, don’t wait to address it. HANDLE IT NOW so you can hopefully avoid more invasive medical treatment like injections or even surgery.