Rotator Cuff Syndrome – Symptoms, Exercises, Treatment


What is Rotator Cuff Syndrome?

The rotator cuff syndrome is a condition known to affect a group of muscles significant for rotating our shoulder. These muscles are cuff-like in pattern, which holds our shoulder. Anatomically, the rotator cuff is attached from our scapula, known as our shoulder blade, towards our humerus or our arm bone. The rotator cuff is a stabilizer for the arm and the shoulder which helps in assisting our movements of our shoulder and arm.

Rotator Cuff Syndrome picture


Rotator Cuff Syndrome Showing Inflammation of the Shoulder Muscles

According to research, the incident rate of rotator cuff syndrome has been noted as 10 out of 1,000 cases of all shoulder disorders. However, old age has increased the incidence rate of rotator cuff syndrome. It has been reported that 25 out of 1,000 of those in their 4th and 5th decade, develop rotator cuff syndrome.


This condition has three stages. The following are the proposed stages involving rotator cuff syndrome:

  • Stage I. Swelling is noted and possible bleeding in the affected area.
  • Stage II. Tendinitis, inflammation of the tendon develops.
  • Stage III. Rupture of the muscle or tearing of the muscle which has developed.

Symptoms

The rotator cuff syndrome include the following symptoms:

  • Pain is the initial and identifying symptom of the syndrome. It has been noted that the client becomes dysfunctional because of the pain.
  • Weakness is also noted among the patients. The ability to carry things become difficult for the patient.
  • Movement restrictions are also identified. Simple tasks such as reaching out for objects and even steering the wheel are a hard task. The movement restriction is very noticeable and it is somehow accompanied by a snapping shoulder. This is characterized by the instability of the joint surfaces found in the shoulder.
  • Frozen shoulder is noted.

Causes

The condition, rotator cuff syndrome, is believed to be caused by the inflammation of the rotator cuff. This is due to the impingement or induction of pressure on the tendons. Trauma is also rooted as a possible cause of rotator cuff syndrome. Whenever trauma is involved, an inflammatory process tends to emerge after the phenomenon. This trauma can also cause for a deeper problem which is the development of tendon tears. A scar tissue formation then emerges, making it more difficult and complicated on the part of the patient.

There are those who are at risk for developing rotator cuff syndrome. Accordingly, those who have hazardous occupations are at risk. Those who are required to carry heavy weight materials over their heads and especially the shoulders are likely to suffer from rotator cuff syndrome.


Athletes are also believed to suffer from this condition. The overuse of the shoulder can produce instability and injury. Old age is also considered as one of the risk factors for rotator cuff syndrome.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of rotator cuff syndrome can be attained through the following tests and methods:

  • Collecting the medical history of the client can help and assist in acquiring the final diagnosis of the presenting symptoms. Knowing the client’s occupation can be listed down as a risk factor for the syndrome and one of the possible causes. History of pain complained by the client should also be noted. The characteristics of the pain that the client is experiencing can assist in the diagnosis of the condition.
  • Physical examination is essential in the process of diagnosing rotator cuff syndrome. Inspecting the client’s shoulder is essential. Checking the client’s range of motion is part of the assessment. When pain is noted, checking for its intensity and area of affectation is part of the data collection.
  • X-ray The anteroposterior view and axillary view can help evaluate any problem with regards to the shoulder blade. In order to rule out other possible cause of fracture, this test is rendered.
  • An MRI can help identify the presence of tearing of the shoulder muscles.
  • Ultrasound  The affected shoulder can also help in the process of diagnosing rotator cuff syndrome.
  • Electromyography is a test that checks the nerve and muscle state.

Rotator Cuff Syndrome Treatment


The treatment for rotator cuff syndrome is aimed in managing the presenting symptoms. In the acute phase of the disease condition, the following care is provided to clients:

  • NSAIDs or anti-inflammatory drugs are essential in reducing the swelling and pain.
  • Application of an ice pack on the area is usually rendered. This can provide relief to the client but should not be applied for more than 15 minutes in a given frequency of 4 times a day.
  • Physical therapy is recommended to clients. As the sufferer is still unable to tolerate the pain, they can be assisted by professionals with the right interventions for the problem. Stretching exercises are introduced first while strengthening exercises comes next.
  • Surgical intervention is a last resort for rotator cuff syndrome. This is only indicated when the client is included in the criteria for surgery. When the condition has become a chronic problem, they are recommended for the operation in order to improve their shoulder strength, increase their function and to relieve the pain. Repair of the torn tendon can also be facilitated with the operation.

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8 thoughts on “Rotator Cuff Syndrome – Symptoms, Exercises, Treatment

  • 25/04/2013 at 12:34 PM
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    Rotator cuff syndrome is treatable but is also an area open to misdiagnosis. The first step to treating the syndrome usually is physical therapy, which typically lasts for six weeks. Therapy usually consists of moving the joint and performing exercise to strengthen it. At the end of therapy, the patient typically is reassessed to see if there is any improvement.

    Reply
    • 02/05/2013 at 4:51 AM
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      At the end of the treatments, will the rotator cuff go back to its original condition and are there special considerations to follow to prevent its reoccurence? Thanks

      Reply
  • 04/08/2013 at 11:01 AM
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  • 29/01/2014 at 7:09 AM
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    This condition is very painful. I am only left with the last option that is surgical

    Reply
  • 29/08/2014 at 5:02 AM
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    People out there can you imagine suffering rotator cuff and attacked by bells pulsy. On the same side. You ask yourself that is it sroke or ?

    Reply
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