Tom Willemann Health Tips

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Avoid Rotator Cuff Surgery with Physical Therapy

Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of three dominant bones—the humerus, clavicle and scapula. The rotator cuff consists of a group of four tendons and associated muscles that collectively work to keep the arm bone within the socket of your shoulder bladewhile allowing your arm to raise and rotate.

Although damage to the rotator cuff may indicate a need for surgery in some cases, recent studies suggest that a physical therapy rehabilitation program can be as effective as surgery. Initial treatment of rotator cuff injury focuses on reducing inflammation through anti-inflammatory medications and strengthening exercises. The more the inflammation is reduced, the better a person’s capacity to perform strengthening and stretching exercises.

Physical therapy encourages correct movement to stimulate cells to lay down collagen along the lines of stress to form healthy, strong tendons, thus speeding up recovery. 

An effective rehabilitation program may include:

  • stretches to encourage comfortable movement
  • exercises that enhance movement and control of the scapula
  • exercises that isolate each muscle group and selectively train that muscle
  • passive exercises, performed multipletimes a day with the help of a therapistthe other arm or a machine, that move the joint through its range of motion (ROM)
  • ROM exercises with light weight
  • exercises that flex and extend the elbow, wrist and hand

Physical therapy plays an important role in the treatment of a damaged rotator cuff. By following a protocol that includes warming up, stretching and strengthening, postworkout icing, and anti-inflammatory medications, many people with rotator cuff injuries can attain comparable preinjury strength and motion without surgery.  Many of our local surgeons in the Paramus and Ridgewood area are trying more conservative approaches to treatment of rotator cuff tears with the research indicating many can respond to physical therapy depending on the demands of the individual.

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
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