Unfortunately, rotator cuff injuries affect about 2 million people per year. One of the most common types of these shoulder injuries is a rotator cuff tear, which is often the result of playing sports or an accident. But the rotator cuff also degenerates from wear-and-tear as you get older.
At Empire Physical Therapy & Athletic Rehabilitation in Manhattan, Billy Reilly, MS, PT, and Paul LaRosa, MS, PT, provide advanced care for patients dealing with diverse conditions and injuries, and rotator cuff injuries respond tremendously to physical therapy.
Our team is deeply invested in relieving your pain, improving your mobility, and restoring your quality of life, and Empire Physical Therapy & Athletic Rehabilitation is a place where you’ll be listened to, respected, and treated with compassion.
What is a rotator cuff?
A rotator cuff is actually a group of muscles and tendons that not only keeps your arm in your shoulder socket, but also allows you to rotate your arm, lift it above your head, and move it away from your body.
You have the rotator cuff to thank for being able to reach a box on a high shelf, throw a baseball, and even strut your stuff on the dance floor.
What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury?
There’s a range of rotator cuff injury symptoms, which depend on the injury’s severity.
For example, you have symptoms that are much more disruptive if you suffer a full thickness rotator cuff tear — when part or all of the tendon detaches from the muscle — than a partial thickness tear, which is when the tendon remains connected to the bone. This type of injury usually happens suddenly.
Tears can also develop over time and as the result of repetitive movement. Degenerative tears may feature mild pain that worsens as time goes on.
Symptoms you may experience with a rotator cuff injury include:
- Shoulder pain when you try to raise your arm
- Weakness when you try to life an object
- Pain that is more severe at night when you sleep
- An audible clicking when you move your arm
Your doctor may recommend medications for your rotator cuff injury, as we mentioned before, to reduce inflammation, as well as rest and possibly wearing a sling.
They may also advise corticosteroid injections to address pain, and surgery if your injury calls for it, but physical therapy is often a first-line treatment for these injuries. Research has shown physical therapy to be equally effective as surgery for rotator cuff tears in some instances.
What does physical therapy for a rotator cuff injury involve?
We can help you whether you seek help with pain from an injury or if you’re recovering from rotator cuff surgery. Physical therapy may end up being the only treatment you need or it may be a treatment that complements others.
If you’re healing from a rotator cuff injury, you can expect us to:
- Provide therapeutic solutions to restore the range of movement in your shoulder
- Counsel you on how proper posture while sitting and standing can support your healing
- Teach you exercises that you can do to strengthen your shoulder muscles
- Explain how to use ice and heat therapy to relieve pain when needed
- Help you find a sleeping position that’s comfortable
- Offer guidelines on the correct way to lift and carry things
- Suggest alternative ways to do many things that save you from shoulder pain
- Recommend a Functional Movement Screen (FMS), which analyzes how you move
Treatment brings your shoulder back to optimal functionality, so you can enjoy the activities you did prior to your injury.
If you’re recovering from surgery, we work on helping you regain strength and restore pain-free movement, but we also give you advice on how to prevent further injury. This is where the FMS may play a role in treatment. By identifying improper movements patterns, we can help you correct them, decreasing your chances of reinjury.
We also speak with you about ways you can maintain the flexibility of your muscles and tendons — physical activity is key, of course — especially with strengthening and stretching exercises.
When you visit us for treatment, you see the same physical therapist each time so you can experience consistency in treatment and form a trusting bond.
Call our office, located in Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood in New York City, to set up an appointment. You can also book an appointment with us online.