Rotator cuff injury

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Rotator cuff injury involves irritation or damage to a group of muscles and tendons supporting the shoulder joint.

A rotator cuff injury can be brought about by the following:

  • Overusing the shoulder in work or sports that involves repeated overhead movement of the shoulders such as in baseball, swimming, tennis, football or housework.
  • Engaging in an abrupt activity where the shoulder is twisted, or the tendon is torn such as using the arm to break a fall, lifting heavy objects or falling onto the arm.

The risk is high for the injury if the individual has poor head and shoulder posture especially among the elderly.

What are the signs?

Rotator cuff injury
Apply an ice pack on the site every 3-4 hours at 20-minute sessions at a time.

The usual indications include the following

  • Arm and shoulder pain along with weakness
  • Loss of shoulder movement particularly when attempting to raise the arm overhead

Management of rotator cuff injury

The individual should adjust his/her activities by avoiding those that trigger pain until the injury has recuperated. It is vital to engage in strenuous activity or overhead movement that triggers discomfort. In addition, observe proper posture and avoid slouching forward.

Stretching and strengthening exercises are also recommended to promote healing of the injury. For a serious tear, it requires repair with surgery. After surgery, the treatment includes physical therapy to strengthen the shoulder as it heals.

The discomfort often settles after a few weeks with self-care measures, but some injuries can take several weeks or even longer to recuperate.

Other self-care measures to manage a rotator cuff injury include:

  • Apply an ice pack on the site every 3-4 hours at 20-minute sessions at a time.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications can be given.
  • Moist heat can be applied to lessen the pain, relax the muscles and promote easier movement of the arm and shoulder.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on rotator cuff injury is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn how it is managed, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Victoria, Surrey, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Red Deer, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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