What is a rotator cuff tear?

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that help to stabilise the shoulder. Occasionally these muscles can become injured or suffer a tear. This can occur from a single overloading event such as ca fall or they can happen over time from wear and tear. Symptoms may include weakness in the shoulder and pain at rest or only with movement. Your physiotherapist at Ergoworks can help to diagnose the problem with careful assessment. Sometimes further imaging such as an ultrasound or MRI may be required to determine the size of the tear and the tissues involved.

How is a torn rotator cuff treated?

A rotator cuff tear must be treated carefully and completely to allow return to sport and general activity without the risk of recurrence. The goal of treatment initially is to reduce pain with pain relief if required and rest from aggravating activities. Soft tissue release and dry needling can be a useful adjunct to treatment to help to restore normal shoulder range of motion, shoulder blade, neck and upper back mobility. Treatment is progressed on to exercises to help to restore strength of the rotator cuff muscles and develop appropriate strength and conditioning of the shoulder to allow return to sport. Your Physiotherapist with provide this graduated treatment and exercise programme tailored according to pain, the goals of treatment and sporting timetables.

How long does it take to get better?

This depends on the size of the tear and the potential underlying causes of the tear. Your Physiotherapist will be able to gradually progress your programme depending on the findings at each stage of assessment during the treatment process. This can take up to 12 weeks for full repair. Sometimes with ruptured tendons, onward referral and surgery may be required. Your Physiotherapist will be able to discuss with you if this is an appropriate course of action for your injury.

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