The vast majority of injuries to the rotator cuff are degenerative in nature, meaning that over time, the tendons found in the shoulder area begin to deteriorate and weaken and eventually small rips or tears form that can lead to weakness, loss of movement and sore joints and muscles. These types of injuries are often quite different from acute forms that affect the rotator cuff that are often a result of sudden injury, sports injuries or other traumas. Determining the best type of rotator cuff injury treatment first depends on the cause of the injury in the first place. The extent of the damage to the tendons found in the rotator cuff region is also important when planning appropriate treatment options.
Tears fall into two categories, partial tears and full thickness tears which are also sometimes called complete tears. When a partial tear is present, it means that a part of the tendon has been damaged but has not been severed completely, unlike in the case of a complete tear which leads to either a hole in the tendon or further damage. What is perhaps shocking to most people is that initial rotator cuff injury treatment actually varies little between the two types of injury, and starts with home care and other available therapies. Surgery is almost always reserved for situations where home care and therapy have failed, chronic pain management appears imminent, symptoms are persisting or a resumption in normal activity is not possible. In fact, there is little evidence to suggest that having surgery immediately as a form of rotator cuff injury treatment provides any further benefit than delaying surgery in favor of non-invasive techniques, and therefore with some exceptions, it’s typically not considered immediately as a treatment tool.
Home care in fact is almost always the initial type of rotator cuff injury treatment. The most important part of this is simply, rest. Overusing the injured shoulder can actually make damage worse and can also lead to a worsening in symptoms. Over the counter medications such as non-steroidal antiinflammatories are also useful, but their use should be only as prescribed and should be monitored by a healthcare provider, especially if they will be used longer than in the short term. The problem with home care unfortunately is that it’s not always hugely effective at relieving symptoms or encouraging a prompt return to regular physical activity.
It’s in these situations where therapy can be incredibly important. When most people think of therapy, they think of sports physiotherapy exclusively. But today’s definition of therapy has been exponentially expanded to include a wide array of therapeutic support and services. In many cases, therapy has crossed over from a supplemental resource to a medical tool that is integral in the treatment and rehabilitation of numerous types of injury and illnesses. One example of this becoming more evident is in the case of cryotherapy in physiotherapy, where cold technology popularized by athletes heading for ice baths following a performance has been enhanced to be more powerful, more comfortable and more accessible. The benefits of cryotherapy as used today in cryo saunas or cryo chambers include recovery from performance but also injury recovery and benefits to certain types of illnesses, too. Although popular today for athletes who are looking to speed recovery time, cryotherapy may be useful in the case of a rotator cuff injury treatment as well. The procedure is thought to work to reduce inflammation, stimulate physiological responses that can reduce healing time and also prompt the release of pain relieving chemicals as well as processes that reduce inflammation.
Combining new types of therapy like those utilizing cryo saunas with traditional forms of physiotherapy may lead to even greater success in treating injuries without the need for surgery. Some types of therapy such as physical therapy are almost always considered appropriate as a form of rotator cuff injury treatment, and others may not always be necessary. What is worth understanding however is that there are a great many types of additional treatment available to people with injuries to the rotator cuff in the event that traditional home care techniques have been unsuccessful or only partially successful. These options are ideal for people who aren’t ready for steroid injections or other invasive types of rotator cuff injury treatment and people who do not want to have surgery. What type of treatment is right depends on the person, their overall level of physical health, the location and extent of the injury and the desire of the individual to return fully to extreme physical activity, if applicable. Home care is always appropriate, but when it fails to produce desired results, various forms of therapy are available – and some of them are so effective, the need for surgery may be delayed or averted entirely.