Remember that favorite peer of pants you had as a kid? The ones that you wore and wore and wore until the material was so thin your mother picked them up and threw them out? Well, that is what happens with the rotator cuff in so many people. A torn rotator cuff is more a more common injury than any other type of tendon tear. It is the result of constant use and abrasion between the shoulder ball join and the shoulder cap. It is extremely common in athletes who put a lot of tension on this area, but even normal wear and tear can lead to this problem in middle aged people.
The normal recommendation for a rotator cuff tear is surgery, and this can be scary as well as expensive. Maybe your medical insurance will cover it if you are lucky, maybe not. but surgery is not the only option. A full recovery is possible with a specialized course of physio therapy to treat and strengthen the torn tendon. It is a time consuming course, but may be the best result in the long run.
The recovery begins with an understanding of what is involved and a realistic assessment of the outcome. To begin with you can’t rush it. In some people recovery from a rotator cuff injury happens very quickly, in others it takes more time. The difference is often in an understanding of the limitations of the rotator cuff. Returning to full duties at work, or getting straight back into a competitive sport are the most common reasons for suffering a relapse of the injury.
The rotator cuff is designed to rotate the shoulder and also to stabilize it. Rapid motion, and heavy resistances can cause ongoing problems as the shoulder is not given the time it needs to heal. This is true both in the case of a physical therapy course and recovering from surgery. Even surgery is not a miracle cure that will allow you to jump back into your life and do the things you did previously. With surgery there is a recovery period for the rotator cuff to return to it’s former strength.
Effective physical therapy courses center around gradually increasing the resistance and speed of exercises so as not to put too much undue stress on the rotator cuff. Over time the rotator tendons will improve in strength and elasticity and you will be able to do more of the things you used to do. The key is a good sensible physical therapy course, and the patience to work through the course at a pace that suits your body.