How To Rehab A Rotator Cuff Injury? (TOP 5 Tips)

Bend the elbow of your injured arm to 90 degrees and rest the elbow on your side. Your forearm should rest across your abdomen. Hold a light dumbbell in the injured side’s hand and, keeping your elbow against your side, slowly raise the dumbbell toward the ceiling. Stop rotating your arm if you feel strain.


How long do rotator cuff injuries take to heal?

Rotator cuff treatment. The minimum time for recovery from rotator cuff tendinitis or a small tear is generally two to four weeks, and stubborn cases can take several months. Early on, the aim is to reduce swelling and inflammation of the tendons and relieve compression in the subacromial space.

Can rotator cuff heal on its own?

No, rotator cuff tears cannot heal themselves, but not all tears require surgery.

Should you rest or exercise a rotator cuff injury?

The response to ice is variable since the rotator cuff tendons are located deep within the shoulder. Rest — Rest means avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms, including overhead activities that elicit symptoms. Avoiding painful activities in general will alleviate strain on the injured area.

How can I make my rotator cuff heal faster?

5 Tips to Speed Your Recovery from Rotator Cuff Surgery

  1. Wear your shoulder immobilizer or sling.
  2. Participate in physical therapy.
  3. Eliminate pain medication as quickly as possible.
  4. Avoid certain shoulder positions and arm movements.
  5. Don’t rush your recovery.

What is the best exercise for rotator cuff?

5 rotator cuff exercises to relieve shoulder pain

  1. Towel stretch. Hold a dish towel behind your back at a 45 degree angle.
  2. Cross stretch. You can sit or stand for this exercise.
  3. Finger walk. Stand facing the wall about 3/4 of an arms’ length away.
  4. Weighted pendulum. You can sit or stand for this exercise.
  5. Wall press.

How do you tell if rotator cuff is torn or strained?

Signs of a rotator cuff tear include:

  1. Difficulty and pain caused by raising your arm.
  2. Popping or clicking sounds or sensations when moving your arm.
  3. Shoulder pain that worsens at night or when resting your arm.
  4. Shoulder weakness and struggling to lift items.

How can I heal my rotator cuff naturally?

3 Little-Known Ways to Help Your Rotator Cuff Heal Faster

  1. Take nutritional supplements. Some experts advocate taking nutritional supplements to help a rotator cuff tear heal.
  2. Stop smoking. If you have surgery for your rotator cuff tear, then you should stop smoking.
  3. Change your sleeping position.

How can I treat rotator cuff pain at home?

Treatments include:

  1. Over-the-counter medicine. Anti-inflammatory pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen can help ease your shoulder ache.
  2. Rest. You’ll need to stop any physical activity that causes or adds to your shoulder pain.
  3. Ice. A cold pack can help reduce swelling and pain.
  4. Heat.
  5. Stretching.

What happens if rotator cuff is not repaired?

Without any treatment—either rest and rehabilitation or surgery—rotator cuff disorders may get worse. Over time, you may have more pain. You may lose range of motion and strength in your shoulder, making it harder to do your daily activities.

How do you strengthen a weak rotator cuff?

Step-by-step directions

  1. Lean forward and place one hand on a counter or table for support. Let your other arm hang freely at your side.
  2. Gently swing your arm forward and back. Repeat the exercise moving your arm side-to-side, and repeat again in a circular motion.
  3. Repeat the entire sequence with the other arm.

Are push ups good for rotator cuff injury?

If you know that you have a rotator cuff problem, or even if you suspect one, it’s best to avoid regular pushups for a while until you fully heal. In the meantime, wall pushups are a great alternative, as is doing pushups on an elevated surface like a counter or aerobic step.

Are shoulder shrugs good for rotator cuff?

” Strong shoulder blade muscles equal a good environment for a strong cuff.” Chepeha’s suggested exercises for strengthening the shoulder and back complex include movements and exercises along the lines of shrugs, rowing and lat pulldowns. “Anything where you squeeze your shoulder blades together is great,” she said.

How did I tear my rotator cuff?

If you fall down on your outstretched arm or lift something too heavy with a jerking motion, you can tear your rotator cuff. This type of tear can occur with other shoulder injuries, such as a broken collarbone or dislocated shoulder.

5 Easy Rotator Cuff Exercises

What is a rotator cuff injury and how does it occur? Shoulder injuries are a severe problem, as both sports spectators and athletes are well aware of. They can be highly painful, restricting, and time-consuming to recover from. Rotator cuff syndrome refers to a set of four muscles that help to support the shoulder while also allowing the arm to move freely. Heidi Jannenga, a physical therapist and the founder of WebPT, recommends visualizing the head of the arm bone as a golf ball and the region of the shoulder blade as a golf tee for treating shoulder pain.

Impingements and rips of the rotator cuff are the most prevalent rotator cuff ailments.

  • Itching and pinching are caused by the swelled and cramped area between the arm and shoulder bones caused by a rotator cuff muscle. Swelling is frequently caused by muscle strains and other overuse injuries, as well as bone spurs. A rotator cuff tear occurs when a tendon or muscle in the rotator cuff is ripped, which is a less common type of injury. The majority of tears will not need surgical intervention.

Overhead motions that are repeated over and over again can wear down the rotator cuff muscles, making them a typical source of pain. This is why sportsmen with shoulder problems, such as baseball pitchers, are so common. In addition, severe injuries, such as falling on one’s arm, might result in serious harm. Regardless of how it occurs, the likelihood of a rotator cuff tear grows as we grow older and the wear and stress on our bodies accumulates. Immediately following an injury, try to use the ” RICE ” approach as follows: Treatments such as rest, cold, compression, and elevation all work together to alleviate pain and swelling.

These are some examples of exercises:

  • Doorway stretch, side-lying external rotation, high-to-low rows, reverse fly, and lawn mower pull are all techniques that can be used.

If you are comfortable increasing weight to these movements, consider employing a small dumbbell or resistance band for the repetitions if you are comfortable doing so. If you do not have access to a light dumbbell, a can of soup can be used.

  1. Start by standing in an open doorway with your arms out to the side, allowing your muscles to warm up. Grip the edges of the doorway with each hand at or below shoulder height, then lean forward into the doorway until you feel a gentle stretch in your muscles
  2. Continue to maintain a straight back while leaning and shifting your weight onto your toes. You should feel a stretch in the front of your shoulder after doing this exercise. Do not overstretch your muscles.
  1. Sit up straight and on the side opposite your damaged arm
  2. Fold in the elbow of your injured arm to 90 degrees and place the elbow on your side to relieve the pain. If your forearm is properly aligned, it should lay across your abdomen. Holding a light dumbbell in the injured side’s hand, steadily elevate the weight toward the ceiling while maintaining your elbow against your side. If you feel any tension in your arm, stop rotating it. For a few seconds, raise the dumbbell above your head before returning to the starting position with your arm down Repeat 3 sets of 10 reps as many times as you like, up to 3 times a day. When a set of ten becomes too easy, increase the number of reps to twenty.
  1. Sit up straight and on the side opposite your affected arm. Bend the elbow of your injured arm to 90 degrees and place it on your side to rest the elbow. This means your forearm should be resting over your stomach. Hold a light dumbbell in the hand of the affected side and gently elevate the weight toward the ceiling while maintaining your elbow against your side. If you feel any tension, stop moving your arm. For a few seconds, keep the dumbbell up before returning to the starting position with your arm down Up to three times every day, perform three sets of ten repetitions. When a set of ten gets too easy, increase the number of repetitions to twenty
  1. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent is a good position to start. Maintain a straight back and a small forward bend at the waist
  2. While holding a light weight in each hand, extend your arms and elevate them away from your body. Keep your elbow from locking. Make a tight fist with your shoulder blades while doing so. It is not permissible to raise your arms over shoulder height. Return to the beginning and complete three sets of ten repetitions.
  1. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips. Place one end of a resistance band beneath the foot of the person who is hurt on the other side of the body. The other end of the band should be held by the wounded arm so that the band runs diagonally across your torso. Keeping one hand on your hip and without locking your knees, bend your waist slightly so that the hand gripping the band is parallel to the opposite knee
  2. Keep the other hand on your hip. Straighten your body up while bringing your elbow across your body to your outer ribs, as if you were starting a lawn mower in slow motion with your arm. As you rise, keep your shoulders relaxed and your shoulder blades squeezed together to prevent injury. 3 sets of 10 repetitions

However, while these exercises might assist in the recovery from a small injury, a significant or reoccurring injury requires further attention and care. Consult your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or a deep pain, swelling, trouble elevating your arm, and difficulties sleeping on your arm for more than a few days following your accident are all possible consequences.

These are signs and symptoms of a more serious medical condition.

5 Stretches and Exercises for Rotator Cuff Tears

In the case of a rotator cuff tear, physical therapy will be necessary to help you rebuild shoulder strength and range of motion after the injury. Rotator cuff injuries are most commonly caused by trauma, tissue degeneration, or impingement of the shoulder joint. Read more about how rotator cuff injuries occur here. On your journey to recovery, you may come across a variety of workouts and stretches that look like the ones listed here. advertisement

1. Pendulum swing

  • As you approach a table, stable chair, or railing to the side, place the hand of your undamaged arm on the item to provide support. Lending a little forward motion without rounding the back, and allowing the afflicted arm to dangle freely is recommended. Then, with this arm, softly move it forth and back
  • Keeping your arm in the same posture, move your arm in and out (from side to side). Begin by moving your arm in tiny circles around you, starting in the same posture. Begin by moving in a clockwise direction, then reverse and move in a counterclockwise direction
  • Carry out the exercise with the other arm.

See Rotator Cuff Injuries: Symptoms and Treatment for further information.

2. Crossover arm stretch

  • Maintain a straight posture and relax your shoulders. If you need to unwind, take a few deep breaths and relax. Stretch the injured arm over your chest, but keep it below your chin to relieve the pain. attempting to travel as far as possible The healthy arm contributes to the healing process by supporting the elbow region of the damaged arm. It is important to note that when executing this exercise, you should feel a stretch rather than pain. Carry out the exercise with the other arm.

Check out this video: Crossover Shoulder Stretch

3. Standing row

  • This exercise calls for the use of a stretch band that has been knotted at the ends to form a three-foot loop
  • Attach one end of the loop to a stable item, such as a doorknob, and turn it so that it faces you. Hold the other end of the band in one hand while standing back far enough so that there is little or no slack in the band
  • Pulling the elbow back with your arm bent at the elbow at a 90-degree angle and near to your torso Carry out the exercise with the other arm.
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See Rotator Cuff Injuries: Causes and Risk Factors for further information.

4. Internal rotation

  • This exercise, similar to a standing row, is performed using a stretch band that is linked at the ends to form a three-foot loop. One end of the loop should be attached to a stable item such as a doorknob
  • Step to one side and hold the band in the hand of your afflicted arm
  • Repeat as necessary. Maintain a 90-degree angle with your elbow while keeping it close to your body. Once you’ve done that, cross your forearm across your midsection of the body. Carry out the exercise with the other arm.


5. Posterior stretch

  • Raise your chin and relax your shoulders
  • The elbow area of the wounded arm is held in place by the hand of the intact arm. The wounded arm’s hand crosses the torso and rests on the shoulder on the other side of the body. The damaged arm is gently pushed up and over the body by the hand of the unaffected arm, resulting in a stretch. Carry out the exercise with the other arm.

Your doctor or physical therapist will often prescribe the sorts of exercises and the amount of repetitions that will best meet your needs and achieve your objectives. As well as precise workout technique, he or she will also train you on various pain management techniques. For example, applying ice or a cold pack soon after stretching can help reduce inflammation; your health care practitioner can show you how to apply ice or a cold pack properly. See Rotator Cuff Injuries: Initial Treatment for further information.

You should check to see that you are executing the prescribed stretches and exercises correctly; if you are experiencing pain, you should seek medical attention.

If you feel any discomfort, stop immediately and talk with your health care practitioner before continuing.

The rotator cuff plays a crucial function in your shoulder’s mobility by holding your upper arm bone (humerus) in place and allowing you to rotate your shoulder.

Following your physical therapy program as suggested will assist you in restoring normal function to your shoulder after a tear and getting you back to the activities you enjoy! See Shoulder Soft Tissues for further information.

Learn more:

See Rotator Cuff Injuries for further information. Injections into the rotator cuff


The “rotator cuff” refers to a collection of four muscles and their tendons that are crucial for maintaining the stability of the shoulder joint. Injuries to the rotator cuff are widespread, and can occur as a result of an accident or trauma, as well as through overuse of the shoulder. Injury risk might vary, but it typically increases as a person’s age grows. Rotator cuff tears are more prevalent in persons who are older, although they can also occur in people who are younger. Athletes and heavy laborers are particularly vulnerable.

  • When left untreated, a rotator cuff tear can result in considerable discomfort as well as a reduction in the ability to utilize the affected arm or shoulder.
  • Physical therapists are experts in the movement of the body.
  • For an evaluation, you can make contact with a physical therapist directly.
  • Find a Physical Therapist in Your Area!

What Is a Rotator Cuff Tear?

The “rotator cuff” is a set of four muscles and their tendons (tissues that connect muscles to bones) that attaches the upper arm bone, or humerus, to the shoulder blade and helps to stabilize the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff’s most significant function is to maintain the stability of the shoulder joint. Heavy lifting, repetitive arm movements, or trauma, such as a fall, can cause the rotator cuff to become inflamed or irritated, resulting in shoulder pain. Injury to the muscles or tendons of the rotator cuff causes tissue damage or disruption, resulting in a tear in the joint.

  • Rotator cuff tears that are full thickness stretch from the top to the bottom of the muscle or tendon of the shoulder. Partial-thickness tears damage at least a piece of a rotator cuff muscle or tendon, but they do not extend all the way through the muscle or tendon
  • And

Tears in the shoulder are frequently caused by a stressful incident or by misuse of the shoulder over an extended period of time. These disorders are referred to as “acute” or “chronic” in most cases.

  • Acuterotator cuff tears are those that occur quickly, frequently as a result of traumas such as a fall or the lifting of a large object
  • Chronicrotator cuff tears are those that develop over time, usually as a result of repetitive motion. These rips are frequently the consequence of repetitive maneuvers with the arms functioning above the shoulder level, such as those associated with ball-throwing sports or certain types of jobs.

People who suffer from chronic rotator cuff injuries are more likely to have a history of rotator cuff tendon irritation, which produces shoulder pain when they move their shoulders. Shoulder impingement syndrome is the medical term for this ailment. It is also possible that rotator cuff tears develop in conjunction with injuries or irritation of the biceps tendon at the shoulder, as well as with labral tears (to the ring of cartilage at the shoulder joint). Your physical therapist will go through the specifics of your rotator cuff injury with you in further detail.

How Does It Feel?

People who have rotator cuff tears may have the following symptoms:

  • Pain radiating from the top of the shoulder down the outside of the arm, or both
  • Weakness in the shoulders
  • Loss of shoulder range of motion In the arm, you may experience a sense of weakness or weight. It is impossible to elevate the arm to reach higher or to reach behind the back. The inability to carry out routine everyday tasks because to discomfort and restricted movement

How Is It Diagnosed?

Your physical therapist will do a thorough evaluation to determine the source of your shoulder pain. This examination will involve learning about your symptoms, examining your ability to move your arm, finding weakness, and completing specific tests that may suggest a rotator cuff rupture. For example, your physical therapist may instruct you to lift your arm to a certain angle of elevation, move your arm out to the side, or elevate your arm and resist a force, all of which are precise angles of elevation.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help?

You will work with your orthopedist and physical therapist to determine whether you should have surgery or whether you can try to manage your rehabilitation without surgery once a rotator cuff injury has been detected. You will work with your physical therapist to restore your range of motion, muscle strength, and coordination so that you can return to your normal activities. If surgery is not required, you will work with your physical therapist to restore your range of motion, muscle strength, and coordination so that you can return to your normal activities.

Whether or not you decide to undergo surgery, your physical therapist can provide assistance both before and after the operation.

If You Have an Acute Injury

As soon as an injury to the shoulder is detected, seek the attention of a physical therapist or other health-care practitioner to rule out the likelihood of more serious problems that might be life- or limb-threatening. Once a significant injury has been ruled out, your physical therapist will assist you in managing your discomfort and preparing you for the most appropriate course of therapy for your condition.

If You Have a Chronic Injury

As well as managing the symptoms of chronic rotator cuff injuries, physical therapy can help you improve the way your shoulder performs in everyday activities. In the case of major rotator cuff injuries that cannot be entirely healed, physical therapists can teach specific shoulder movement patterns to enhance shoulder mobility. However, if physical therapy and conservative treatment are ineffective in improving your function, surgical intervention may be a possibility for you.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help Before and After Surgery?

Physical therapy will be an important component of your rehabilitation process if your illness is serious enough to necessitate surgery to regain use of your shoulder. Re-injury of the surgically repaired rotator cuff is a concern following shoulder surgery; thus, collaboration with a physical therapist is essential to safely restoring full use of the affected arm. Following the surgical procedure, you will be need to wear a sling to keep your shoulder and arm covered while the repair is being completed.

Your physical therapist will begin your entire rehabilitation program as soon as you are able to exercise without the assistance of the sling.

Physical therapy will help you through the various stages of postsurgical rehabilitation, which will evolve from gentle range of motion and strengthening exercises to activity- or sport-specific activities as necessary.

The time frame for your recovery will vary depending on the surgical procedure and your overall health, but it is possible that you will not be able to return to sports, heavy lifting, or other strenuous activities until 4 months after surgery, and that you will not be able to return to full activity until 9 months to 1 year after surgery.

Following surgery, your shoulder will be more prone to re-injury, so be cautious. It is critical that you adhere to the postoperative recommendations supplied by your surgeon and physical therapist as instructed. Most of the time, your rehabilitation will be broken into four phases:

  • Phase I consists of the following steps: (maximal protection). In the first few weeks following your surgery, your shoulder is at the highest risk of re-injury. This phase of treatment lasts for a few weeks. During this phase, your arm will be in a sling to keep it from moving. To do routine actions like as washing and dressing, you will most likely want support or techniques to help you succeed. You will learn gentle range-of-motion and isometric strengthening exercises, receive hands-on treatments (manual therapy), such as gentle massage, receive advice on how to reduce your pain, and may be treated with techniques such as cold compression and electrical stimulation to relieve your pain
  • Phase II (moderate protection). The purpose of this following step is to restore mobility to the shoulder joint as much as possible. With time, you will be able to lessen your reliance on your sling, and your range-of-motion and strengthening activities will become more difficult. Exercises to strengthen the “core” muscles of your trunk and shoulder blade (scapula), as well as the rotator-cuff muscles, which offer additional support and stability to your shoulder, will be included. You will be allowed to resume using your arm for daily tasks, but you will be prohibited from performing heavy lifting until further notice. During this phase, your physical therapist may employ particular hands-on mobilization techniques to aid in the restoration of your shoulder’s range of motion
  • Phase III (return to activity). The objective of this phase is to restore your shoulder strength and joint awareness to a level that is comparable to your other shoulder. The use of your arm for daily activities should be complete at this stage
  • Nevertheless, participation in activities such as sports, yard work, or physically demanding job-related chores will still be prohibited. It is during this phase that your physical therapist will increase the difficulty of your exercises, either by adding weight or by instructing you to use more challenging movement patterns. A modified weight-lifting/gym-based program may also be initiated during this phase
  • Phase IV (return to occupation or sport). This phase will assist you with returning to work, sports, and other higher-level activities after a period of absence. You will be instructed in activity-specific exercises by your physical therapist throughout this phase, which will be tailored to your needs. Throwing and catching drills may be included in the program for some athletes. Others may benefit from education in effective lifting techniques for common jobs such as raking, shoveling, and performing housework, as well as experience moving larger goods onto shelves.

Can This Injury or Condition Be Prevented?

A physical therapist can aid you in reducing the worsening of the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear and may lower your chance of further aggravating a tear, especially if you seek care as soon as you notice shoulder pain or discomfort. It is critical to refrain from performing behaviors that might aggravate an existing shoulder issue in order to avoid acquiring a rotator cuff tear. It is possible that your physical therapist can assist you with strengthening your rota T or cuff muscles, educating you on how to avoid potentially hazardous situations, and determining when it is suitable for you to return to normal activities.

  • Refrain from repeatedly raising your arms over your head, since this may cause shoulder discomfort. Consider seeking the guidance of a physical therapist if your profession necessitates such motions. A physical therapist can teach you arm postures that are less dangerous to utilize
  • Add shoulder blade and rotator cuff strengthening exercises to your regular workout regimen to improve your overall health. The rotator cuff’s strength is equally as significant as the strength of any other muscle group in the body. General strengthening and fitness programs can help to prevent any damage to the rotator cuff and enhance overall shoulder health. Maintain a straight back and shoulders. It has been demonstrated that a forward posture of the head and shoulders alters the position of the shoulder blades and results in shoulder impingement syndrome. If you sleep on your side, avoid sleeping with your arm stretched above or resting your head on your shoulder. These postures can set off the process that leads to rotator cuff degeneration, and they may be accompanied with an increase in your degree of discomfort. Smoking should be avoided since it might reduce blood flow to your rotator cuff. Consult with a physical therapist as soon as you notice any symptoms.

What Kind of Physical Therapist Do I Need?

Even though all physical therapists are trained and experienced in the treatment of rotator cuff tears, you should consider the following factors when choosing a provider:

  • A physical therapist who has extensive knowledge in the treatment of persons suffering from musculoskeletal issues. Some physical therapists have a specialty practice that focuses on orthopedics. The knowledge, experience, and abilities of a physical therapist who is board-certified clinical specialist, or who has completed a residency or fellowship in orthopedic physical therapy, are likely to be more advanced than those of other physical therapists.
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The American Physical Therapy Association created Find a PT, an online tool that allows you to look for physical therapists in your area who have specific clinical expertise. You can find these and other credentials by searching for physical therapists in your area who have these and other credentials. When looking for a physical therapist (or any other type of health care practitioner), here are some general guidelines:

  • Find out who to ask for recommendations from: relatives and friends, or other health-care professionals. You should inquire about the experience of the physical therapists in treating persons who have labral tears when you make an appointment with a physical therapy facility. Ensure that you are prepared to discuss your symptoms in as much detail as possible, as well as what makes your symptoms worse

Is this content helpful?

Thank you very much. Your feedback has been forwarded to the appropriate party. Customers, according to the American Physical Therapy Association, should have access to information that will assist them in making health-care decisions, as well as information that helps prepare them for their appointment with their health-care practitioner. As selected by the American Physical Therapy Association, the following papers contain some of the most compelling scientific information on how to treat rotator cuff tears.

  • Listed by year, the article titles provide a link to either a PubMed* abstract or free online access to the complete article, allowing you to read it or print off a copy for you to take to your health care practitioner.
  • Kukkonen, A.
  • Lehtinen, and colleagues An investigational randomized controlled study with two years of clinical and imaging follow-up for the treatment of nontraumatic rotator cuff tears 97:1729–1737 in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery of the United States.
  • W.
  • Klinger, and M.
  • The natural history of rotator cuff tear: a thorough review of the literature 135:1055–1061, in Arch Orthop Trauma Surg.
  • Summary of the article on PubMed.

57, no.

Summary of the article on PubMed.

Düzgün, G.


Pain and functional activity following arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery were compared between a slow and an expedited rehabilitation strategy, respectively.


Summary of the article on PubMed.

The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, Volume 19, Number 3, pages 368–379.

Parsons, BO, Gruson, KI, Chen, DD, and colleagues Is there a link between a slower recovery process following arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery and long-term stiffness?

Shoulder Elbow Surg 2010;19:1034-1039.

Oh JH, Kim SH, Ji HM, and colleagues The prognostic parameters that influence the anatomic result of rotator cuff surgery and its relationship to functional outcome were investigated.

Summary of the article on PubMed.

In this retrospective, descriptive study, we looked at the results of shoulder physical therapy patients.

Journal of Orthopaedic Sports Physical Therapy.

PubMed contains millions of citations to biomedical literature, including citations to articles in the MEDLINE database maintained by the National Library of Medicine.

Symptoms Conditions Tear in the Rotator CuffAuthor (s) Charles Thigpen, PT, PhD, ATCL, is a physical therapist. ane Bailey, PT, DPT, is a professional reviewer (s) The editorial board has made a decision.

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It is made possible through videophysical therapy. 30th of November, 2016 Charlie did not begin jogging until he was 55 years old. With the assistance of his physical therapists, he has completed more than 50 marathons and eight Ironman triathlons by the age of 73.

Do I Need Physical Therapy for a Rotator Cuff Tear?

You are not alone if you are suffering from a rotator cuff injury. Every year, millions of individuals are affected by this. It’s a common source of shoulder discomfort. The appropriate therapy can help you feel better, prevent a minor injury from becoming worse, and speed up the healing process. Physical therapy (PT) is an effective treatment option for many people. It is possible that this is all that is required to treat a rotator cuff injury. Physical therapy (PT) is a method of regaining strength and movement following an accident.

Your Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a bundle of tendons and muscles in your shoulder that helps to stabilize the joint. They wrap over the top of your arm to give a “cuff” effect. It assists you in lifting and rotating your arm. Additionally, it maintains the shoulder stable as your arm travels. One or more of the following can result in a torn rotator cuff: It can become inflamed as a result of regular wear and tear over time. This is more common in adults over the age of 40. However, you can also acquire one if you fall or if you keep doing the same thing over and over again.

It has the potential to split or rip, especially if you move anything quite heavy.

Is PT for Me?

If you suspect that you have a tear, consult your doctor immediately. They may refer you to an orthopedic doctor, who is a specialist who specializes in the treatment of bones, joints, muscles, and tendons. They can provide you with information on surgery and nonsurgical treatments, as well as physical therapy. Unless the damage is serious, physical therapy is usually the first step. Your physical therapist will ask you questions about your personal life and the activities you participate in.

For example, the therapist may ask you to raise your arm, shift it to the side, or push against something in order to determine your physical limits PT is beneficial in a variety of ways.

The therapist will assist you in the following ways:

  • You should regain your range of motion. Learn how to strengthen your shoulder muscles with these workouts. Improve your posture (the way you sit and stand) to assist alleviate discomfort. Find a technique to sleep that isn’t too painful for your shoulder. Learn how to transport goods in a safe manner. To alleviate the discomfort, apply ice or heat. Recognize the reasons why you must keep progressing
  • Find strategies to complete tasks without causing discomfort to your shoulder. It is time to return to your usual activities (please be patient as this may take some time)

Physical therapy can also aid in the recovery process following rotator cuff surgery. It’s the same concept as before: to gain strength and movement while returning to a normal life. The therapist will instruct you on how to avoid injuring your shoulder again following surgery.

As you recuperate, pay close attention to your discomfort and get assistance if necessary. That is the most effective method of healing your damaged shoulder and ensuring that it remains as strong as possible for the rest of your life.

Rotator cuff injury – Diagnosis and treatment

At various points throughout the physical examination, your doctor will push on different regions of your shoulder and move your arm into various postures to assess your shoulder function. It is also possible that he or she may assess the strength of the muscles around the shoulder and in your arms. If necessary, he or she may prescribe imaging tests such as the ones listed below.

  • X-rays. The use of ultrasound can detect bone spurs or other potential reasons of your pain, such as arthritis. Although a rotator cuff tear will not show up on an X-ray, this test can detect other potential causes of your pain, such as arthritis. Soft tissue imaging is a technique that employs sound waves to create pictures of structures within your body, particularly soft tissues such as muscles and tendons. It enables dynamic testing, which assesses the structures of your shoulder as they move in response to your movements. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) also provides for a fast comparison between the afflicted shoulder and the healthy shoulder (MRI). This method makes use of radio waves as well as a powerful magnet. All of the shoulder structures can be seen in great clarity on the photos that were acquired. The quality of the photos is strongly influenced by the quality of the equipment that was utilized.


Some rotator cuff injuries can be treated with conservative measures such as rest, ice, and physical therapy, which can help the patient heal more quickly and completely. If your damage is serious, you may require surgical intervention.


The use of a steroid injection into the shoulder joint is often recommended by doctors when conservative therapies fail to relieve discomfort. This is especially true if the pain is interfering with your sleep, everyday activities, or participation in physical therapy. While such injections are frequently effective in the short term, they should be used with caution since they can contribute to the weakening of the tendon and reduce the success of surgery if it is ultimately necessary.


A physical therapist is generally one of the first therapies that a doctor will recommend for you. Stretching and strengthening exercises that are targeted to the precise region of your rotator cuff injury can assist you in regaining flexibility and strength in your shoulder. A significant component of the rehabilitation process following rotator cuff surgery is physical therapy.


Rotator cuff injuries can be treated with a variety of surgical procedures. These procedures include the following:

  • Tendon repair via an arthroscopic procedure. Surgery to repair a torn tendon involves inserting a small camera (arthroscope) and equipment into a small incision and stitching the damaged tendon back into place. Tendon repair with an open wound. In some cases, an open tendon repair may be a better alternative than a closed repair. The injured tendon is reattached to the bone through a bigger incision made by the physician during these types of procedures. Transfer of a tendon If the ripped tendon is too damaged to be repaired and reattached to the arm bone, surgeons may choose to replace it with a tendon from a neighboring bone. Shoulder replacement surgery is required. Shoulder replacement surgery may be required in the case of severe rotator cuff problems. In order to increase the stability of the artificial joint, a novel approach (reverse shoulder arthroplasty) is used to attach the ball portion of the artificial joint to the shoulder blade and the socket portion of the artificial joint to the arm bone.

Video: Tendon transfer to repair rotator cuff

In the shoulder joint, the rotator cuff is a set of muscles and tendons that help to stabilize the joint while also allowing you to move your arm and shoulder. When a portion of the rotator cuff gets inflamed or injured, it can cause problems. Pain, weakness, and a decreased range of motion may develop as a result of this. It is possible for one or more tendons to get separated from the bone. In some situations, a surgeon can repair the tendon to the bone with the use of a suture, which is a thread-like substance similar to thread.

  1. This is when a “tendon transfer” could be considered by the surgeon.
  2. The latissimus dorsi tendon in the back is the tendon that is most usually used for tendon transplant.
  3. The surgeon detaches one end of a latissimus dorsi tendon and applies a suture to the other end of the tendon in the back.
  4. He or she inserts an instrument into the latissimus dorsi tendon to grip the end of the tendon.
  5. In order to link the transplanted tendon to any residual rotator cuff and bone, sutures are employed in the procedure.

In rare circumstances, bone anchors are placed into the bone to aid in the retention of the sutures in their positions. Using sutures, the surgeon closes the flap of muscle in the deltoid muscle. The incisions are then stitched up in the front and rear to complete the procedure.

Video: Reverse shoulder replacement

In the shoulder joint, the rotator cuff is a set of muscles and tendons that help to stabilize the joint while also allowing you to move your arm and shoulder. Problems with the rotator cuff can result in weakness or discomfort, as well as mobility restriction. It has the potential to cause injury to the shoulder joint as well. Tendons may often be healed if they are damaged. Alternatively, if the tendons have been significantly injured, a procedure known as reverse shoulder replacement may be a more effective technique to enhance the joint’s function and relieve discomfort, particularly if the joint has been impacted by arthritis in the first place.

  1. “Arthro” refers to a joint, and “plasty” refers to the process of surgically molding something.
  2. The socket of a standard shoulder replacement is lined with a plastic liner to ensure that the shoulder may move freely.
  3. However, if the rotator cuff is badly injured, the joint may not be stable and may not function as intended.
  4. Attached to the shoulder blade is a plastic ball with a handle.
  5. The deltoid muscle, which is a big muscle that covers the shoulder, is usually capable of moving the arm.
  6. An incision or cut is created in the front of the arm and shoulder area to perform the procedure.
  7. The upper arm bone is taken out of the socket and placed in a cast.
  8. In addition, the socket has been prepared.
  9. The metal stem is put into the arm bone, and a plastic socket is affixed to the top of the stem to complete the assembly.
  10. Afterwards, the incision is closed and the tissue is sewed together around the joint.

Lifestyle and home remedies

When treated properly, the discomfort associated with a small rotator cuff injury can frequently subside on its own. Stop performing whatever it was that was causing the discomfort and try to avoid unpleasant motions as much as possible. Heavy lifting and overhead activities should be avoided until your shoulder discomfort diminishes.

It is possible that icing your shoulder will relieve your discomfort. Analgesics such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may also be beneficial in the treatment of headaches.

Preparing for your appointment

You’ll most likely begin by consulting with your primary care physician or a sports medicine practitioner. An orthopedic surgeon may be consulted if your injury is serious enough that you require surgical intervention. Depending on whether you’ve been treated for a similar condition in the past, you may need to bring previous records and imaging exams with you to your consultation.

What you can do

If you have time before the visit, you may wish to make a list that addresses the following questions:

  • When did you first notice that you were having shoulder pain? What kind of motions and activities aggravate your shoulder discomfort
  • Have you ever had an injury to your shoulder? In addition to the shoulder ache, have you noticed any other symptoms? Is the discomfort felt further down your arm below your elbow? Is there any connection between the shoulder ache and any neck problems? Is your work or a recreational activity making your shoulder ache worse?
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What to expect from your doctor

A variety of questions will almost certainly be asked by your doctor. Being prepared to respond to their questions may allow you to set up additional time to go over any issues you wish to spend more time on. Your doctor may inquire as follows:

  • What part of the body is experiencing discomfort
  • What is the severity of your discomfort? Are there any specific motions or activities that cause or ease your shoulder pain? Does your arm have any numbness or weakness in it

What to do about rotator cuff tendinitis

A wide range of activities, like swinging a tennis racket, digging in the yard, placing a book on a high shelf, and reaching back to insert your arm into a sleeve, are enabled by the shoulder’s tremendous range of motion. Because we rely on this mobility for so many things, when the shoulder aches, it may be quite debilitating. Sporting injuries are the most common cause of problems for younger people, but the rest of us have more to worry from the usual wear and tear that, over time, weakens shoulder tissues and makes them more prone to damage than they do from sports injuries.

  • The most frequent cause of shoulder discomfort is rotator cuff tendinitis, which is an inflammation of the shoulder’s main tendons (rotator cuff).
  • The pain gets worse when you push, pull, reach overhead, or elevate your arm to the side.
  • Even getting out of bed might be a challenge.
  • When tendinitis becomes severe, it can result in the fraying or tearing of tendon tissue.

Anatomy of the rotator cuff

The rotator cuff is made up of four tendons: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. Each of these tendons attaches a muscle of the same name to the scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus, or upper arm bone, and each of these tendons attaches a muscle of the same name to the scapula (shoulder blade) (see illustration). Each of these tendons works together to help maintain joint stability as well as rotate and elevate the arm over the head.

Rotator cuff tendinitis is a disorder that often begins with inflammation of the supraspinatus tendon and extends to include the other three tendons as the problem worsens. Cuff of the rotator cuff

Rotator cuff diagnosis

Clinical examination and history-taking are the most common ways in which rotator cuff tendonitis is diagnosed by most doctors. An x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be recommended if you have sustained a severe injury, if your shoulder has not recovered with conservative therapy, or if a tear is suspected. Tenderness towards the top of the upper arm (the subacromial area) will also be checked, and discomfort will be felt if you lift or move your arm in particular ways, says your doctor.

Rotator cuff tendinitis is indicated by discomfort with normal muscular strength, however pain with weakening may indicate a tear (see “What is rotator cuff tear?” for more information).

What about a rotator cuff tear?

As we grow older, the tendon tissue grows thinner, increasing the likelihood of a tear. A tear in the rotator cuff can occur in up to one-third of elderly persons who have rotator cuff tendonitis. Minor ones, such as tendinitis, can be managed conservatively, while serious ones, such as osteoarthritis, may necessitate surgery. When a catastrophic injury to the shoulder occurs, it is common for it to be corrected surgically. Recovery, on the other hand, is often gradual. For this reason, many orthopedic surgeons prefer to save shoulder surgery for younger patients, large rips that are discovered early, and elderly persons whose employment or activities exert a significant strain on their shoulders.

Some surgeons utilize a procedure known as “mini-open repair,” which is less intrusive and requires a smaller incision than traditional open repair.

The arthroscopic treatment of tears, on the other hand, is not effective for all kinds.

Rotator cuff treatment

Recovery from rotator cuff tendonitis or a mild tear is usually completed in two to four weeks, although obstinate instances may take many months to resolve. At the beginning of the procedure, the goal is to reduce edema and irritation of the tendons, as well as to alleviate compression in the subacromial area. Later on, exercises to strengthen the muscles and enhance range of motion can be introduced to the program. The initial few days of rotator cuff tendonitis are the most painful. Apply an ice pack to the shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes every four to six hours for the first few days.

  • Your doctor may also recommend a corticosteroid injection, although there is no conclusive evidence that this is any more effective in the long run than physical therapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) usage.
  • On the other hand, you don’t want to completely cease moving your shoulder since doing so might result in “frozen shoulder,” which is a condition in which the tissues around the shoulder contract and decrease the range of motion of the joint.
  • You may begin this workout as soon as you get home from work.
  • These exercises can be performed with the assistance of a physical therapist, but the majority of them can be completed on your own.

It is possible to suffer some slight soreness after performing muscle-toning activities; ice given to the shoulder should assist to alleviate the discomfort; but, if you experience intense or severe pain, you should discontinue the exercises for a few days.

Weighted pendulum exercise

Sit or stand holding a 5- to 10-pound weight in the hand of the affected shoulder. Use a hand weight or make one from a gallon container filled with water. Relax the shoulder, and allow the arm to hang straight down. Lean forward at a 20- to 25-degree angle (if you’re standing, bend your knees slightly for a base of support), and swing your arm gently in a small circle, about one foot in diameter. Perform 10 circles in each direction, once or twice a day. As symptoms improve, you can make the circle wider — but never force it.

Stretching exercises

Warm your muscles before performing these exercises.
Towel stretch.Grasp a dishtowel behind your back and hold it at a 45-degree angle. Use your good arm to gently pull the affected arm up toward the lower back. Do this stretch 10 to 20 times per day. You can also perform this exercise while holding the towel horizontally.
Cross-body stretch.Sitting or standing, use the unaffected arm to lift the affected arm at the elbow and bring it up and across your body. Press gently, just above the elbow, to stretch the shoulder. Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Do this exercise 10 to 20 times per day.
Finger walk.Stand facing a wall at a distance of about three-quarters of an arm’s length away. With the affected arm, reach out and touch the wall at about waist level. Slowly walk your fingers up the wall, spider-like, as far as you comfortably can or until you raise your arm to shoulder level. Your fingers should be doing most of the work, not your shoulder muscles. Keep the elbow slightly bent. Slowly lower the arm — with the help of your good arm, if necessary. Perform this exercise 10 to 20 times a day. You can also try this exercise with the affected side facing the wall.

Isometric muscle toning exercises

Heat and stretch your shoulder joint before doing these exercises. Use flexible rubber tubing, a bungee cord, or a large rubber band to provide resistance.
Inward rotation.Hook or tie one end of the cord or band to the doorknob of a closed door. Holding your elbow close to your side and bent at a 90-degree angle, grasp the band (it should be neither slack nor taut) and pull it in toward your waist, like a swinging door. Hold for five seconds.
Outward rotation.Hold your elbows close to your sides at a 90-degree angle. Grasp the band in both hands and move your forearms apart two to three inches. Hold for five seconds.Do 15 to 20 sets of these exercises each day.

Image courtesy of Jan-Otto/Getty Images For the benefit of our readers, Harvard Health Publishing makes our archival content available to them via a secure website. Please include a note of the date of the most recent review or update for each article. No information on this site, regardless of when it was published, should ever be considered as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained healthcare professional.

Rotator Cuff Therapy – 5 Exercises for Relief : Movement for Life

Posted on February 28, 2020 by Team Movement for Life An injury to the rotator cuff is one of the most prevalent types of injuries that any athlete may have. There are four muscles that encircle and support the shoulder, as well as allow it to move freely in all directions. These muscles are known as the rotator cuff. It is nearly always one of two main forms of rotator cuff injuries: an impingement or a tear, when you suffer from a rotator cuff injury. The term “impingement” refers to a swelling of one or more of your rotator cuff muscles, which reduces the amount of space between the arm and the bones in your shoulder.

A tear, although less frequent, can be quite debilitating since it causes a tendon or muscle in your rotator cuff to be ripped and need extensive healing time.

We invite you to schedule a consultation with one of our clinics to learn more about how we can assist you with your rotator cuff issue right now.

Static or isometric exercise

Place the palm of your injured side against a firm and stationary object such as a door, a wall, or another person in order to perform this exercise safely and effectively.

  • You must then push against the stationary item in order to complete the task. Continue to do this until you feel discomfort or pain.

Because this exercise is conducted in a sedentary position, it may be performed within a week following an injury, provided that it is not painful.

Pendulum Exercise

The purpose of this exercise is to expand the range of motion in your shoulder. Stand with your undamaged arm resting on a stable surface, such as a table or a railing, and lean slightly forward to complete the motion.

  • Then, in a moderate circular motion, swing your wounded arm in front of you to relieve the pain. Small circles should be used to begin with, and the size should be increased gradually to develop range of motion.

External Rotation

  • For this exercise, you should hold your upper arm close to your body while bending the elbow of your damaged arm to a 90-degree position. Utilize a light dumbbell and alternate moving your forearm from one side of the body to the other
  • You should continue spinning until you feel a pain in your shoulder.

Following an injury, this exercise will help to strengthen your rotator cuff muscles.

Crossover Arm Stretch

This is a straightforward workout that focuses on the posterior shoulder muscles.

  • Start by relaxing your shoulders
  • Then extend your wounded arm across your chest to the other side, holding it with your other arm
  • And last, relax your shoulders again. Maintain this posture until you feel a tension in your muscle, then switch positions.

Standing Rows

This exercise is also intended to help you strengthen your rotator cuff muscles.

  • Take a stretch band and tie it to a stable item
  • This is the first step. Face the band and take a step back to allow it to stretch
  • Stretch your wounded arm back down by holding the band in your palm and bending it at the elbow. Follow the directions provided by your physical therapist when performing this exercise.

As well as these types of exercises, additional techniques such as alternately applying an ice pack and a warm compress to the injured shoulder and getting plenty of rest can also assist to offer comfort and aid in the speedy rehabilitation of the afflicted rotator cuff muscle.

After an injury what do I do?

In the event of an injury, you have a wide range of alternatives to choose from. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (often known as “RICE”) is a typical strategy that you may do to relieve your symptoms. Keep in mind that this is the therapy that doctors often recommend for soft tissue injuries. The following are the components of the word “RICE”:

  • Rest: Avoid utilizing the afflicted region as much as possible. Injured area of your body should be covered with ice or a frozen bag of frozen things (avoid contacting the skin as it will be painful)
  • Wrapping the damaged region with some type of bandage will assist to restrict the potential of the skin to expand and will also aid in reducing the amount of blood flowing through the area. Elevation: Make every effort to raise the damaged region above the level of the heart in order to minimize the amount of edema in the wounded area.

How Can “RICE” Help My Rotator Cuff?

“Frozen shoulder” and a reduced “range of motion” are two examples of how the “RICE” framework may help you recover from injuries and difficulties. Always consult with a doctor and a physical therapist about any injuries you may be experiencing, as well as treatment options, before beginning or attempting any activities to treat yourself.

They can assist you in ensuring that you are receiving the most appropriate rehabilitation activities for your ailment, as well as preventing you from making mistakes that might cause more harm.


Now that you are aware of the exercises that may be used to treat a rotator cuff injury, you can begin the process of healing. We hope you found this post to be extremely interesting and beneficial. Request an appointment with one of our clinics now if you’d like to learn more about how we can assist you with your rotator cuff injury treatment.

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