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.