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What is a rotator cuff tear?

A rotator cuff tear is common among people who repeat the same arm movement constantly, for example those engaged in sports activities like baseball, tennis, or are painters or window cleaners which involve regular and rigorous movement of arm, often experience pain and discomfort after a while. Pain along the shoulder could also be due to lifting heavy objects or a sudden fall on the shoulder. The continuous movements or a sudden injury leads to wearing out of interconnected muscles and tendons along the shoulder and arm.
The balanced and stabilized movements of your shoulder while carrying out daily activities that involve lifting and rotation of your arms, is due to the set off 4 muscles and tendons that support it. People suffer from two types of rotator cuff tear, partial tear and complete tear. Partial tear is when the tendons that protect the shoulder are damaged and complete tear is when the tendons tear completely or the entire tendon is pulled off the bone.
These are the common symptoms that might be experienced if you have a rotator cuff tear:

  • Finding it difficult to raise your arm
  • Experience weakness in shoulder
  • Hear a popping sound any time you move your shoulder
  • Pain while lying on a particular side
  • Pain while moving the arm in a particular direction
  • Lifting objects seems to be a task

If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to seek medical advice immediately. If the symptoms of rotator cuff tear are ignored, it could lead to serious problems with time and you might end up having arthritis or frozen shoulder which is very difficult to treat.    
To diagnose the problem, the doctor will check the underlying cause of the injury and conduct a careful examination of your shoulder. He will check the movements that cause your pain and analyze your muscle strength. He will check the flexibility of motion too. He might also use one of the following methods to check the severity of the case:

  • MRI scan
  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound

Any of these methods enable the doctor to determine the actual cause of the problem and accordingly he will suggest the treatment method and some medications. The treatment process involves physical therapy coupled with medicines like anti-inflammatory tablets or painkillers to subside the pain. Some exercises are taught to be performed daily at home and some guidance is given on how safely you can use your shoulder while carrying out daily chores. Moreover, resting is highly beneficial as the more you move around, the greater is the pain. If exercises, medicines, proper rest and external applications do not work then the case turns severe and in such a case, he may suggest surgical procedure too.
Instead of going through pain and discomfort due to worn out muscles and tendons around your shoulder, it is necessary to take care of your body before an emergency arises. Make sure you do not over stress your body and eat healthy food that strengthens your bones and muscles. Also your body needs proper rest, so make sure you take the required amount of rest too.  
If you are in need of physical therapy services and live in Paramus, give Apex a call today & schedule your FREE assessment!

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.
Tom Willemann

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