A rotator cuff injury is one in which the tendons that rotate and the lift the shoulder are damaged or torn. Because the injury decreases shoulder function, physical therapy is one of the most commonly prescribed treatment options. When an Orthopedic Surgeon, Physical Therapist and the patient work together, treatment goals are met, and can include:
Decreasing Swelling and Pain
Swelling and pain occur immediately after a rotator cuff injury and can last for hours, days, or even weeks. Thus, one of the initial goals of physical therapy is to decrease these symptoms as soon as possible. Some effective treatment options include:
- Cooling the injured tendons decreases inflammation and pain.
- Gentle massage. Relaxing the injured area helps decrease swelling.
- Gentle stretching. Regaining range of motion prevents stiffness, which decreases pain.
Once swelling and pain are under control, a more aggressive approach can be taken.
Increasing Range of Motion
Preventing stiffness and increasing range of motion are crucial to recovery after a rotator cuff injury. Physical therapists initially stretch the shoulder themselves—performing various stretching techniques that only they have been trained to do. As range of motion increases, patients are then able to stretch their shoulder at physical therapy sessions and at home.
In order to return proper function and prevent future injuries, strengthening exercises are prescribed and performed. The rotator cuff, shoulder, neck and upper back muscles are targeted. When completed, a proper strength program leaves the patient stronger than they were before the injury.
Return to Activity
A full return to activity is the ultimate goal of physical therapy after a rotator cuff injury. When a patient is able to go back to life, work, or athletics and is free from pain and not limited, the physical therapist’s job is done. Of course, the patient will need to follow up with and receive clearance from an Orthopedic Surgeon before being able to meet this goal.
Arranging an Appointment
If you’ve injured your shoulder and are in pain or having mobility issues, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices in Plymouth, Duxbury and Sandwich, MA to arrange an appointment. This important first step will be one you’re glad you made. Once your condition is diagnosed, a complete treatment plan, that includes physical therapy, will be prescribed. The road to a complete recovery starts when you walk through our doors.
If Physical Therapy is one of the treatment options that’s right for you, you’ll be in a great position to live a functional, pain-free life. For over 20 years, our Massachusetts Board Certified Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists along with our very dedicated Physical Therapy Assistants and Rehabilitation Aides have been providing superior physical and occupational therapy to our patients in the areas of general orthopedics, sports injuries, geriatric rehabilitation and hand/upper extremity injuries. The road to recovery starts when you walk through our doors!