Rotator Cuff Pain is a common cause of musculoskeletal pain and is the most frequent reason for people to attend our clinic when experiencing shoulder pain. The shoulder joint comprises the humerus (the upper arm bone) , the clavicle (collar-bone) and the acromion (part of which forms the shoulder blade). You have 4 rotator cuff tendons (and in turn, 4 rotator cuff muscles), and their main role is to stabilise the shoulder. As the shoulder joint is a joint with a large range of movement, the rotator cuff is essential to ensure it functions correctly. An injured or torn rotator cuff can cause pinching pain, pain at night, pain when lifting objects, a constant, dull aching pain, shoulder instability and arm weakness.
Rotator Cuff pain is a general term for a variety of conditions that involve a shoulder injury. Injuries such as ‘rotator cuff tendinopathy’, ‘rotator cuff tendonitis’, ‘rotator cuff tears’ and shoulder impingement are all symptoms of pain from the rotator cuff. They are usually caused by a gradual overload of the tendon, or a sudden increase in activity. In more serious cases, a sudden onset rotator cuff tendon tear can be caused by a traumatic injury such as a fall, and can lead to other conditions such as fractures and frozen shoulder. It is also common for rotator cuff injuries to accompany elbow disorders and upper arm pain.
A Rotator Cuff tear is one of the most common form of sports related injuries that we see for physiotherapy treatment. It is important to seek a specialist in sports injury rehabilitation when recovering from a rotator cuff injury so that your recovery can be targeted around a successful return to play, rather than just resolution of your symptoms.
Thankfully, most rotator cuff injuries are successfully treated conservatively. As Physiotherapists, we take a deep look as to why you are in pain, whether that be a movement issue or something else. During your physiotherapy appointment, once we have found out what exactly is causing your pain, we can formulate a treatment plan to fix the problem and get you pain free.
Some of the physiotherapy treatments for rotator cuff pain and shoulder pain treatment include:
On rare occasions where these treatments do not work, or you are in severe or chronic pain, we can offer more specialist therapy for rotator cuff pain such as diagnostic ultrasound scans and corticosteroid injections. In the event we need to refer you to a consultant who specialises in shoulder and elbow disorders, we have strong links with consultants locally and in London that run a shoulder clinic. Unfortunately, arthroscopic rotator cuff repair surgery is sometimes indicated – albeit rarely. However, rotator cuff surgery and shoulder surgery in general, has excellent outcomes if it is followed up by a thorough physiotherapy programme.
Usually, with regards to physio for shoulder pain, you can expect to see results within a few weeks, and permanent results within 8-12 weeks. A painful shoulder is something that is debilitating, but rarely a permanent issue.
On occasions, your rotator cuff pain may be referred from your neck. The cervical spine has a system of nerve roots that can cause neck pain and persistent pain radiating into the shoulder, elbow pain or pain down to the thoracic spine. This can lead to tight muscles in the shoulder that mimic rotator cuff pain. In such a case, a private physiotherapist will be able to differentiate the origin of your pain and advise you on the moat effective treatment programme.
In the rare event that your shoulder pain is generated from the neck, we may need to refer you for an MRI scan to diagnose the origin of your nerve pain and/or spinal pain.
We have physiotherapists who specialise in shoulder pain and sports injuries in all our clinics, including our newest clinic in Hitchin. Our Physiotherapists are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and our Sports Therapists are registered with BASRAT. You can see our team through self-referral or by using your private health insurance.
If you are looking for a physiotherapist for shoulder pain, or think you may have a rotator cuff injury, please contact us here