Rotator cuff injury causes a dull pain in the shoulder and can cause a lot of discomfort. Conservative treatment options including rest and physical therapy may help ease the pain, and sometimes, are all you need to recover. However, if your pain is severe or is not relieved by conservative treatment, a specialized pain physician can help determine the next steps. Pain Treatment Specialists explore all noninvasive techniques and discourage surgery and the use of narcotics. Surgery is rarely necessary.
The most common treatment options include:
Taking a break from all physical activities helps to prevent further strain on the muscles which can worsen your pain. Also, a rising pain at the rest position can suggest a more severe tear.
Place ice pack on the affected area for ten to twenty minutes interval or as required for the first 24 to 48 hours. Ice lowers the temperature thereby reducing blood flow into the tissue. It also lowers pain and muscle spasm.
Wrap the shoulder with an elastic bandage. This helps to prevent swelling. However, avoid making the bandage too tight or it will lead to swelling below the affected area. Some of the signs that show the bandage is too tight include an increase in pain, tingling sensation, and numbness.
Use a pillow to elevate the shoulder so that your arm is on a level above your heart. This eases the pressure on blood flow and can further ease the pain.
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)
This involves injecting patients with growth factors and platelets harvested from their blood. They go into the body and initiate a natural repair process.
Pain specialists will only administer cortisone, steroid-based injections if conservative treatment seems ineffective. Cortisone injection is able to break persistent bursal irritation. Cortisone injection is usually used simultaneously with physical therapy.
What is a Rotator Cuff?
To appreciate the options available on how to treat rotator cuff injury, it is important to understand what it is. The rotator cuff is a set of muscles and tendons that make sure the head of your upper arm (humerus) is stable in the socket of the shoulder joint. The four muscles in the rotator cuff are;
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Categories of Rotator Cuff Injury
Rotator cuff injuries are split into three categories which can vary from mild to severe. This can range from mild wear from overuse to complete tear. The categories are;
- Tendinitis: this is inflammation of the tendons of the rotator cuff. This results from overuse of the muscles of the rotator cuff in overhead activity.
- Bursitis: this is the inflammation of the bursa. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that guards the rotator cuff. Bursitis can result from rotating your arm in a certain repeated motion.
- Rotator cuff tear or sprain: this is the partial or complete tear or sprain of the tendons or muscles of the rotator cuff. It can result from an accident like a fall or from a range of motion which causes a gradual tear of the tissues of the tendon over time.
Risk Factors that can Predispose You to Rotator Cuff Injuries
There is a popular saying that prevention is better than cure. Understanding the risk factors that predispose you to rotator cuff injuries is important. It will help you to avoid it in the first place so you don’t spend time and money trying to understand how to treat rotator cuff injury. The three main predisposing factors are age, sports, and occupation. However, recent studies suggest genetics has a role to play in how easily rotator cuff injuries can occur in different individuals.
- Age: degeneration of the muscles is a normal process that occurs with age. As you age, the risk of rotator cuff injuries increases too. Those over the age of 40 are at a higher risk of rotator cuff injuries.
- Sports: athletes who use their arms in a repetitive motion are more likely to have rotator cuff injuries. Sports like basketball, swimming, tennis, and archery are a few examples of sports that involve repetitive motion.
- Occupation: certain occupation can increase your chance of having rotator cuff injuries. In carpentry and painting, for example, you work with your hands over your head most of the time. This can cause a gradual tear to your rotator cuff over time.
Common Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Injury
Rotator cuff injuries do not always cause pain. The muscle or tendon tear can occur rapidly or gradually over a prolonged period of time. A rapid tear is likely to hurt more than a gradual tear. However, if you experience one or more of the following symptoms for more than a week, consider paying a visit to a pain specialist for a list of options on how to treat rotator cuff injury.
- Trouble moving your shoulder around freely
- Difficulty touching your back with your hand or reaching for objects above your head.
- Sharp or dull pain when reaching overhead
- Difficulty in sleeping on your side, particularly on the affected shoulder
- A weakness of the shoulder that becomes worse with time.
- Inability to participate in some activities or games because they lead to pain and discomfort.
The Type of Doctors that Treat Rotator Cuff Injury
A Pain Treatment Specialist is in the best position to help you find a solution to your shoulder pain. A pain specialist will be able to order tests which will reveal the underlying cause of the shoulder pain. However, a physical therapist or a family medicine physician with a specialty in sports medicine can also assist you to manage the pain.
How Pain Doctors Diagnose Cuff Injury
Pain treatment specialists have unique skill sets that help them to diagnose rotator cuff injuries. Pain doctors will begin by taking your medical history. This is followed by a physical examination of the shoulder. The aim of the physical examination is to identify changes or deformities in the affected shoulder in comparison with the good shoulder. The doctor may direct you to take imaging scans to reveal bone outgrowths which may be in contact with the rotator cuff tendon leading to the inflammation or pain. The doctor may also use ultrasound scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the severity of the tear of the muscles or tendons.
How to Find a Pain Doctor
The team at Pain Treatment Specialists consists of highly trained pain physicians that offer personalized treatment plans for every patient. The Pain Treatment Specialists team delivers a holistic treatment by exploring a wide range of minimally invasive procedures that will help you to regain your life. Looking for a pain doctor in NY or New York? You will find them here.