Most shoulder injuries are caused by excessive activity and repetitive strain. Activities such as overhead reaching and prolonged positioning can eventually lead to shoulder instability or impingement. Hours of repetition and strain full positions can lead to inflammation and eventually tendonitis. Athletes, hair dressers, mechanics, and carpenters are most susceptible to those types of injuries due to the excessive strain on the shoulders. Muscles become weak, joints lose flexibility, and pain can become severe. Shoulder instability will develop shortly after.
Rotator cuff is composed mostly of soft tissue (muscles, tendons, and ligaments). Those structures are responsible for movement and stability of the shoulder. Injury to any of those structures can affect the quality of range of motion, loss of strength, and most likely discomfort or pain.
The main problem with injuries to the shoulder is that most patients will wait too long before seeking treatment. That can cause an increase in rehab time due to degeneration of the condition. As time goes on and the injury is not being addressed, other problems may arrive. Inability to use the shoulder properly and naturally can severely reduce muscle strength and affect the activities of daily living. Daily activities such as getting dressed, showering, or even lifting a gallon of milk can become problematic.
Most common treatment will include anti-inflammatory and pain medication prescribed by a doctor. This type of treatment is usually a temporary solution to a bigger problem. Although pharmaceutical approach is good for acute stages, further treatment is recommended. Physical therapy is a natural, holistic, and injury focused approach. Evaluation of the shoulder is necessary to determine what type of injury we are dealing with. Most injuries have a lot of common symptoms. It is very important to isolate and locate the problem area in order to treat it properly. Sometimes x-rays or even MRI may be prescribed depending on the severity of the injury.
Once the diagnosis is set, the treatment can start. Depending on the injury, treatments may vary. Almost all shoulder injuries are set up in stages. Starting from acute phase to reduce inflammation and pain, all the way through advanced phase of rehab to regain any loss of range of motion and to improve strength. Patients can expect treatment length anywhere form just a few weeks to few months, depending and the severity of the injury. Every treatment is individualized to each patient’s needs. Every patient can progress at different rates. The more sever the injury the longer plan of care.
The main focus with a shoulder injury is to seek treatment as soon as possible after the initial injury occurs. This will cut down on treatment time, severity of pain, and return the shoulder function more rapidly. Even after discharge or at end of treatment, it’s always recommended to continue with stretching and strengthening all aspects of the involved injury site. This will keep maintain durability and help prevent further injuries down the road.