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Treating rotator cuff injuries

Diagnosis

During the physical exam, your physiotherapist will press on different parts of your shoulder and move your arm into different positions. They will also test the strength of the muscles around your shoulder and in your arms. 

If the injury is severe, your therapist may refer on for one or both of the following scans to rule out a fracture, or to further assess the damage to your ligaments or tendons.

X-ray

Although a rotator cuff tear won't show up on an X-ray, this test can visualize bone spurs or other potential causes for your pain — such as arthritis.

Ultrasound

This type of test is used to produce images of the soft tissue within your body, particularly muscles and tendons. It allows dynamic testing meaning we can assess the structures of your shoulder in real time as they move. It also allows a quick comparison between the affected shoulder and the healthy shoulder.

Physiotherapy Treatment

Physiotherapy is usually one of the first treatments that you should consider. Exercises tailored to the specific location of your rotator cuff injury can help restore flexibility and strength to your shoulder. Physiotherapy is also an important part of the recovery process after rotator cuff surgery. Many people that experience rotator cuff pain show marked improvement with exercise programmes that they can complete at home

Injections

If conservative treatments haven't reduced your pain, your physiotherapist may refer on to an orthopaedic specialist to discuss the option of a steriod injection into your shoulder joint, especially if the pain is interfering with your sleep, daily activities or work requirements. Steriod injections traditionally have a bad reputation for being a bandaid fix, but often they provide a window of opportunity for people to accelerate their exercise programme and allow them to make uninhibited initial improvements.