If you have suffered with shoulder and arm pain for any length of time the last thing you want to hear is that you have a torn rotator cuff. Usually after the pain develops and you have gone through conservative methods of treatment, if the pain has not subsided you will likely get an MRI. Be prepared because this test may show a tear in the rotator cuff tendons or muscle bellies. Once a tear is identified the question becomes rotator cuff tear physical therapy or surgery? This article will discuss what you need to know to make an educated decision.
You first should understand that there are different forms and degrees of tears that can occur in the rotator cuff. These tears can be small in size with only a few fibers of the tendon or muscle that are damaged to large tears in which the entire tendon or muscle is completely ruptured. To save us time when a tendon or muscle is completely ruptured surgery is likely the only alternative you have in repairing the problem. Think about that. If there is a complete rupture then no fibers have remained connected to each other. The muscle will not be able to perform its normal function until those fibers are reattached.
A minor tear in the tendon or muscle can occur after a trauma (a fall on the shoulder or outstretched hand, repetitive overuse type injury to the tendon, or due to aging where the muscle/tendon complex simply wears out and tears). These minor tears mean that some fibers of the muscle or tendon have remained attached to each other. The muscle can still function although it is impaired and painful. This ability to function can make the difference between rotator cuff tear physical therapy and surgery.
Pain caused by a minor tear can improve with the rotator cuff repair rehabilitation consisting of exercises, anti-inflammatory medication, modalities and manual therapy. As the pain improves your ability to perform strengthening exercises will improve. This will help improve the function of the affected muscle as well as strengthen the intact muscles. They can offer compensation for the weakness of the torn muscle. As all of the shoulder muscles improve the function of the affected shoulder will improve. You will then be able to slowly resume your normal level of activity.
The point to be made here is that rotator cuff tear physical therapy can be used to treat certain degrees of tearing in the muscles or tendons. Simply because you were diagnosed with a tear and surgery has been recommended don't rush into it. Minor, partial tendon and muscle tears are often effectively treated with exercises as part of a well rounded treatment program. Surgery should only be considered after conservative measures have been exhausted.
Rotator cuff tear physical therapy is a necessary option for those with shoulder or arm pain. Discover a professional treatment program designed specifically to help those with shoulder pain. Click here now: Rotator Cuff Exercises
Peter Harris is a licensed physical therapist that specializes in musculoskeletal and orthopedic afflictions. He has helped hundreds of patients relieve their painful symptoms and resume a normal lifestyle over his 18 year career.
For more information click here