5 Simple Rehab Exercises for Rotator Cuff Injury

Our rotator cuff is made up of muscles, tendons and ligaments which hold the shoulder blade firmly with the humerus. Our shoulder joint is one of the most heavily used joint in the whole body and this place the shoulder at a high injury risk. Rotator cuff injuries can commonly happen to people who are actively in sports or use the shoulder heavily. Exercises are an integral form of treatment for someone suffering from Rotator Cuff injuries. It is also often the first form of treatment that most doctors will prescribe to patients and only when it fails will he recommend surgery.

Shoulder blade stretch

Shoulder blade stretching can be performing either standing up or in a seated position. Reach across your chest with both arms and try to hold onto the opposite shoulder blade. You should be able to feel a tight stretch at both shoulders and hold in the position for 15 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 3 sets of 10.

Shoulder elevation

Stand in an upright position with both arms at the side and keeping the elbows straight. Slowly lift up your arms forward to 70 degrees while ensuring that the elbows are still kept straight. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Shoulder rotation

Lie down on the floor on one side of your body and use the hand on the opposite side and bend the elbows 90 degrees. Slowly rotate the shoulder in an upwards direction. You should be able to feel the pressure at the shoulder blade lessening. Continue the rotation for 3 sets of 10 and switch sides.

Bicep curls

Start off with a light weight dumbbell in your hands and slowly bring them up in an alternating manner until you feel a very tight stretch in the biceps and hold in the position for 10 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and switch hands. Perform 3 sets of 15.

Prone Horizontal Abduction

Lie down on your stomach with your hands by the sides. Slowly extend both arms outwards in a parallel manner and until you can feel a tight strain. Hold in the position for 10 seconds and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.

Rehab exercises may seem boring and you will not feel motivated to perform them. However, their main purpose is to increase flexion and extension, as well as to strengthen the shoulder. Strong muscles are important if surgery is required in the future and it can help to lessen the recovery period.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Repair Injury

A rotator cuff tear is a common injury suffered by many and it causes pain and disability among adults. It will not only weaken your shoulder but will also hinder your day to day activities, such as wearing your clothes, brushing your teeth and combing your hair. The rotator cuff is a group of tendons that are joined together, surrounding the front, back and top of your shoulder joint connected to each other. When one or more muscles are torn, the tendons are detached from the humerus and they start to fray. As time passes, the tendon can entirely tear either on its own or during activities that exert huge load on the shoulders.

The most common symptom experienced by many is aching at the top and front of the shoulder. The pain is significantly higher when the arm is lifted overhead. Often, the patient is unable to have a good rest at night as the pain gets worse at night. Some patients may experience weakness in the injured arm and in a worst case scenario; the entire arm cannot be lifted at all.

When patients experience inability to lift their arm above their shoulder, it is normally due to their supraspinatus tendon rubbing against the under portion of their shoulder blade known as the Acromium. It can be acute and it can also be a gradual pain depending on the initial injury. Swelling and inflammation will be observed and the muscles in the rotator cuff will be weakened as a result.

Overuse of the shoulder causes bursitis or tendonitis which is also known as impingement. Impingement will cause the tissues below the acromioclavicular joint to be rubbing against the bone, causing irritation and pain. Normally the doctor will prescribe pain killers or cortisone injections. However if all fails, an arthroscopic acromioplasty or shoulder acromioplasty will be carried out.

As the surface of our acromion can be mis-shaped, bone spurs might develop. By jutting further down when the tendons are, it will cause much pain too the patient in the injured shoulder. The surgeon can reshape the acromion through arthroscopy, a minimal invasive surgery method or through open shoulder surgery.

Gentle exercises to obtain back full range of motion will start the day after the surgery and patients are advised to stop using the arm sling in the shortest possible time. The sutures will be removed a week after surgery and strengthening exercise will be taught to them. It will take approximately 3 months for the shoulder to recover fully.

The Recovery Process After Rotator Cuff Surgery

Shoulder pain is a common problem experienced by many people, with a tear in the rotator cuff the most common reason for it. They are extremely painful and restrict your movement greatly. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons which comprises of four muscles and they hold your arm in a ball and socket joint, which allows your shoulder to rotate around and move with ease. The tendons can be torn through injuries. Rotator cuff surgery is the most commonly done procedures around the world, with over 250000 done in the United States of America annually.

After the surgery has completed, the patient will be taken to a recovery room for a couple of hours. The injured arm will be in a protective sling or even a shoulder immobilizer to prevent any movements. Depending on the type of surgery, arthroscopic surgery patients will be discharged on the same day while open surgery patients will need to be warded for a couple of days.

A physiotherapist will meet up with the patient before discharge and he will teach the patient a set of exercises that are designed to regain the flexibility, range of motion and strength in the injured shoulder. The exercises can be done at the comfort of your own home. Not only will physical therapy exercises be taught, the patient will also be educated on how to prevent re-injuring the shoulders.

Back at the comfort of their own home, it is crucial to perform the physical therapy exercises taught by the physiotherapist for 5 times a day.  Patients should attempt to get back their full range of motion as soon as possible to prevent the formation of scar tissues. If scar tissues are formed, the scarring might possibly cause the whole shoulder to stiffen which will result in huge discomfort and even limit the activities the shoulder can conduct in future. Swelling might be observed as well. They will normally go away if the arms are held in an elevated position and is nothing serious.

The first 12 weeks after surgery are the most important period. Physical exercises must be conducted regularly to regain the full range of motion and prevent the formation of scar tissues. It is of utmost importance not to lift the injured arm away from the body and do not exert any strength on it. Whenever throughout the day, the arm must always be kept inside a protective sling and it is only allowed to be removed which exercising or showering. Do not attempt to drive during the first 6 weeks after surgery.

Full recovery takes roughly 6 months and the first 12 weeks are of most importance. Do the exercises as prescribed by the physiotherapist and this will kick start the healing process

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