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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rotator Cuff Injuries: Symptoms and Treatment

What is a rotator cuff injury?
The rotator cuff is a term used to describe the tendons and muscles that support, stabilize and allow the arm to move up and down, as well as rotate. The four muscles include the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. Injury to muscles or tendons that attach to bones comprise contractile units. These units stabilize the shoulder and allow its motion. A strain occurs at a unit’s weakest point.

How do you prevent a rotator cuff injury?
Warm up adequately prior to any physical activity, practice or competition. The athlete should participate in a strength and flexibility program appropriate for their sport especially a shoulder strengthening and conditioning program prior to throwing sports. For participation in contact sports, protect shoulders with special equipment such as the Antibody The Angle Shoulder brace™ or shoulder pads. After recovery, strapping or elastic wraps may protect against re-injury.

What are the signs of a Rotator cuff injury?

The signs of a rotator cuff injury are:

Noticeable pain in the soft tissues surrounding the strain, including nerves, periosteum(covering of bone), blood vessels and lymph vessels at the time of injury.
Loss of strength(moderate to severe strain)
A common symptom of a rotator cuff injury is aching, and weakness in the shoulder when the arm is lifted overhead.
Crepitation(“cracking” feeling and sound when the injured area is pressed with finger).

Calcification of the shoulder muscle or tendon(visible with x-rays)
Inflammation of the tendon sheath. A less severe injury may result in swelling, bleeding and bruising. This creates pain and inflammation as the swollen muscle pushes on the nearby bone. This can last several months before the muscle is entirely healed. Continued activity can increase the swelling, and lengthen the recovery time.

What body parts are involved in a Rotator cuff injury?
The specific body parts involved are four muscles including the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. The bones in the shoulder area, including the humerus, scapula and clavicle.

What are the main causes of a rotator cuff injury?

The main causes of a rotator cuff injury are:

Prolonged overuse of muscle-tendon units in the shoulder.
Single violent blow or force applied to the shoulder. Powerful muscle twisting or a violent muscle contraction.

How long does a rotator cuff injury take to heal?
If this is a first time injury. Proper care and sufficient healing time before resuming activity should prevent permanent disability. Torn ligaments and tendons require as long to heal as fractured bones do. The Average healing times are:

Mild strain: 2 to 10 days
Moderate strain: 10 days to 6 weeks
Severe strain: 6 to 10 weeks.
If this is a repeat injury the complications listed above are more likely to occur.


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