The shoulder joint is a very complex and delicate joint. It is one of the most used joints in the body, hence why rotator cuff injuries are very common. For today’s blog, we will discuss the clinical presentation, the different grade tears, how to prevent surgery, what to do if you need surgery and how chiropractors can help through the entire.
Figuring Out it is a Rotator Cuff Problem
The shoulder consists of 4 different rotator cuff muscles that work similarly, but each have a unique function that allow the shoulder to rotate a specific way. Of the 4 rotator cuff muscles, the supraspinatus is the most commonly injured; however, the other 3 or more than 1 could be injured as well. Tears are most caused by repetitive motions, especially overhead lifting, but can be caused by traumas, heavy lifting and improper body mechanics. So, when should you start considering a rotator cuff tear? Rotator cuff injuries will usually start on gradually and will get worse the longer it is left untreated. Pain will become excruciating at times, especially at night, and weakness and loss of function are also noted in rotator cuff injuries. An orthopedic examination of the shoulder will show pain and weakness in the majority of most if not all test relating to rotator cuff tears. In order to confirm a rotator cuff tear, an MRI with contrast must be confirmed. It will show if you have a Grade 1, 2 or 3 tear. Each tear is different and will determine what type of treatment will be needed for repair.
- Grade 1- Pain but complete function is noted. This can be treated conservatively.
- Grade 2- Pain and muscle weakness is noted. This may or may not be treated conservatively.
- Grade 3- No pain but complete muscle weakness. This needs surgical repair.
How Do You Prevent Surgery?
Grade 1 and 2 tears can be treated conservatively. A good rehab program for the shoulder is crucial to prevent surgery. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS TO KEEP YOUR SHOULDER MOVING! The reason why we stress this is because keeping your shoulder active will keep the muscles stronger and will be easier to treat these tears. A variety of aggressive stretches and strengthening exercises for several months are the golden key to help resolve these rotator cuff injuries!
What If You Need Surgery?
Grade 3 rotator cuff tears need to be treated with surgery before doing any therapy protocol because the muscle(s) are completely detached and need to be reattached. Once the surgery is done, therapy is started almost immediately to reeducate strength and flexibility back into the shoulder joint. It may take anywhere between 4-6 months, and even longer, of an extensive shoulder strengthening and stretching rehab program to return to a normal lifestyle.
What Can Chiropractors Do to Help Your Rotator Cuff Injuries?
Even though a chiropractor’s job is healing the body naturally and prevent the need for surgery, we understand that there are circumstances where surgery is necessary. In either circumstance, chiropractors can help provide care with rotator cuff tears whether their Grade 1, 2 or 3. Chiropractors can provide different exercise and stretching stretches while adjusting the shoulder and neck to remove any nerve interference. At our office, we provide neck adjustments and a specific shoulder exercises that has had tremendous results with rotator cuff injuries and other shoulder injuries.