Rotator Cuff Injuries: An Overview

Health & Wellness • N E W S L E T T E R •

Rotator Cuff Injuries: An Overview

Shoulder pain and weakness are some of the most common reasons patients seek help from a medical professional each year. A rotator cuff (RTC) injury is the number 1 injury. RTC injuries can vary in severity from simple inflammation to complete tears of the tendon, so it is easy to see why so many people are affected. Because of the wide range of potential shoulder problems related to the rotator cuff, we wanted to answer some common questions: What is the Rotator Cuff? The rotator cuff is made up of four small muscles (Subscapularis, Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, and Teres Minor) that control movement and provide stability of the shoulder joint. Collectively, these 4 muscles are referred to as the “rotator cuff”. It is called a “cuff” because the muscles all come together to surround the shoulder joint keeping the humerus (upper arm bone) stabilized in its socket. These muscles, in addition to the larger muscles that surround the shoulder, provide the power necessary for functional motion such as lifting overhead and brushing your hair. The shoulder, due to its small socket, is one of the most mobile joints in the body; allowing you to move your arm easily in all directions. While this allows for motion in all directions, it also results in significant weakness, leading to injury. The limited structure of the shoulder

makes it subject to significant stresses from most daily activities and sports. What are themost common rotator cuff injuries? The two most common rotator cuff injuries are impingements and tears. An impingement occurs when a rotator cuff muscle tendon becomes inflamed in the narrow space between the humerus and clavicle bone causing pinching and resulting in inflammation. Muscle strain or overuse as well as bone spurs are also common causes of swelling, resulting in impingement of the tendons as they travel through a narrow space between the bones that make up the shoulder joint. With impingement, pain is often consistent during lifting or reaching motions. A rotator cuff tear, while not as common as an impingement, occurs when a rotator cuff tendon or muscle is torn. A tear is described in “degrees” and the degree of tear is determined by the muscles affected and the thickness of the tear. Repetitive, overhead motions can wear down the rotator cuff muscles and, because of this, it is the most common cause of a rotator cuff tear. The is why the frequency of rotator cuff tears is so high in construction workers and baseball players; there is constant overhead strain on their shoulder joints and muscles. Rotator cuff tears can also occur from at LSTC without first obtaining a physician referral. If your physical therapist identifies a need for physical therapy, we will communicate with your physician for a referral. To schedule your evaluation, just give us a call! Treatment for up to 30 Days You can receive a physical therapy evaluation and treatment for up to 30 days without first obtaining a physician referral. If your PT identifies a need for continued physical therapy, we will communicate with your physician for approval.

falling onto an outstretched arm. As with many issues, the risk for rotator cuff injury increases with age. Ouch! Why does it hurt? The primary signs and symptoms of rotator cuff injuries are pain and weakness in the shoulder. The pain is often described as a dull deep ache in the shoulder and upper arm. Many times with a rotator

will improve the stability of the joint and allow for motion without pain. At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, our team of clinicians are highly trained in all conditions of the muscles, tendons, bones, and joints. Our main treatment focus is on helping you regain strength and motion while educating you on how to avoid suffering from the condition again or in cases where it is a chronic condition, we offer education in how to manage at home and when to seek further care in the future. Don’t wait to handle your problem. If you are having pain, loss of joint motion, or weakness, call to schedule an evaluation right away. Start the New Year off on a good note by letting us help you or

cuff tear, the biceps tendon is affected and people will report the deep ache all the way down to their elbow. This pain can disturb sleep, especially if you lie on the affected shoulder side. You will likely find that daily tasks that require you to reach your arm over your head, like brushing your hair or reaching into a cabinet, will result in pain. To prevent loss of motion and further loss of strength, it is important to seek medical attention right away if you suspect a shoulder impingement or rotator cuff tear. Fast action will allow you to quickly return to your normal lifestyle. How can Physical Therapy Help? Physical therapy plays an important role in recovering from an impingement or a rotator cuff tear. Hands-on manual techniques improve flexibility and joint motion preventing further loss. With improved motion, strengthening Can I come to physical therapy without seeing a doctor? Yes, you can come to physical therapy for up to 30 dayswithout a prescription. After that can I go to physical therapy again for the same issue? Yes , after a 60-day waiting period OR you can obtain an MD referral and be seen right away. Can I see a physical therapist for another new condition? Yes, you can schedule and be seen right away for up to 30 days without a waiting period.

someone you love. By: Angie Austin, LPTA

What is Direct Access? In Virginia, Direct Access allows you to receive physical therapy services without first getting a referral from a physician or other healthcare provider. All you need is to identify a doctor to whom you would like us to send a report to on the day of your first appointment. You can then be seen for 30 days of physical therapy before the doctor needs to write a prescription. It’s that easy. One-Time Evaluation

Can I see a physical therapist for maintenance, health, fitness, and wellness (a non-insurance covered service)? Yes. At LSTC, we have a fitness program for patients who want tomaintain their strength under the supervision of clinic staff. They are given a basic program that is individualized to meet their specific needs.

Under Direct Access, you can receive a one-time Physical Therapy evaluation

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