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Dealing with Rotator Cuff Injury: A Road to Recovery.

Today, let’s dive into a topic that’s quite common but often misunderstood: rotator cuff injuries. Whether you’re a gym enthusiast, a weekend warrior, or just someone who enjoys staying active, dealing with a rotator cuff injury can be a real pain in the… well, shoulder.

So, what exactly is the rotator cuff? It’s not some fancy gadget you find in the gym; rather, it’s a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, providing stability and allowing you to lift your arms and rotate them. Now, imagine trying to do your favourite overhead press or throw a ball with a rotator cuff injury – not a pleasant experience, right?

But fear not! Rehabilitating a rotator cuff injury is totally doable, and it often starts with understanding the injury itself. These injuries can happen due to overuse, trauma, or just wear and tear over time, especially if you’re involved in activities that require repetitive arm motions. Symptoms can range from mild pain and stiffness to sharp, shooting pains that make you wince every time you move your arm.

The good news is that most rotator cuff injuries can be treated without surgery, thanks to the wonders of physiotherapy and rehab. Here’s a glimpse into what that journey might look like:

1. Assessment and Diagnosis: First things first, you’ll need to get properly diagnosed by a healthcare professional. This might involve some poking and prodding of your shoulder, along with imaging tests like an MRI to get a clear picture of what’s going on in there [1].

2. Rest and Ice: Once you’ve got your diagnosis, it’s time to give your shoulder some TLC. Resting the affected arm and applying ice packs can help reduce inflammation and ease the pain.

3. Physiotherapy: Ah, the bread and butter of rotator cuff rehab! Your physiotherapist will work with you to design a customised exercise programme aimed at strengthening the muscles around your shoulder joint. This might include gentle stretches, resistance training, and range of motion exercises to gradually build up strength and flexibility.

Here are some examples of rehab exercises for rotator cuff injuries:

• External Rotation with Resistance Band

• Wall Angels

• Prone Shoulder Extension

4. Modalities: In addition to exercises, your therapist might also use modalities like ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or even manual therapy techniques to help speed up the healing process and relieve pain [2].

5. Gradual Return to Activity: As your shoulder starts to feel better, your physiotherapist will gradually reintroduce you to your favourite activities – whether that’s lifting weights, swinging a tennis racket, or perfecting your serve on the volleyball court. It’s all about pacing yourself and listening to your body along the way [3].

6. Prevention: Last but not least, once you’ve recovered from your rotator cuff injury, it’s important to take steps to prevent it from happening again in the future. This might mean tweaking your workout routine, paying closer attention to your form, or incorporating more shoulder-specific exercises into your regimen [4].

Of course, every rotator cuff injury is different, so what works for one person might not work for another. The key is to be patient, stay consistent with your rehab programme, and trust the process. And hey, who knows – you might even come out of this stronger and more resilient than ever before!

So, there you have it – a crash course in rotator cuff injuries and how they’re dealt with in rehab. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and with the right support and guidance, you’ll be back to doing the things you love in no time. Stay strong, stay positive, and keep on moving!

Come and see a specialist Physiotherapist at our Enfield & Cockfosters/Barnet location today and don't suffer in pain!

Blog By: Emre Oz (Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Crouch Physio).


[1] Longo, U.G., Berton, A., Ahrens, P.M., Maffulli, N. and Denaro, V., 2011. Clinical tests for the diagnosis of rotator cuff disease. Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Review, 19(3), pp.266-278.

[2] Klintberg, I.H., Cools, A.M., Holmgren, T.M., Holzhausen, A.C.G., Johansson, K., Maenhout, A.G., Moser, J.S., Spunton, V. and Ginn, K., 2015. Consensus for physiotherapy for shoulder pain. International orthopaedics, 39, pp.715-720.

[3] Millett, P.J., Wilcox III, R.B., O'Holleran, J.D. and Warner, J.J., 2006. Rehabilitation of the rotator cuff: an evaluation-based approach. JAAOS-Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 14(11), pp.599-609.

[4] Kuhn, J. E. (2009). Exercise in the treatment of rotator cuff impingement: a systematic review and a synthesized evidence-based rehabilitation protocol. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, 18(1), 138-160.

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