Rotator Cuff Injury and avoiding surgery

Rotator Cuff Tears… Surgery is avoidable!

Athletes may suffer a rotator cuff injury at some point in their athletic careers.  The 2 most common age groups include 25-35 year olds and 50-60 year olds.  Rotator cuff tears occur because the shoulder joint displays a great amount of motion while not exhibiting much stability.  The mechanisms of injury for these age groups do vary as most 25-35 year old suffer possible rotator cuff tears from overuse and repetitive movement.  Volleyball, baseball, and either football/softball players can suffer these injuries due to overtraining and subsequent weight lifting associated with their sports.  Individuals in the latter age category typically tear their rotator cuff caused by degeneration (aka wear-and-tear).  It is important to have a proper evaluation by a health care professional specializing and/or certified in sports injuries to determine if a tear exists and what limitations are present.  Also, the best source of imaging if possible is an MRI for either age category, but an x-ray would reveal any arthritis (if the injury occurred in the older age category; younger age category likely won’t show any signs of a possible injury).  Tears greater than 50% of the rotator cuff do require surgery, but this article detail athletes who have suffered tears less than 50%, who do not require surgery.

Sports Chiropractors treat rotator cuff injuries that involve tears less than 50% through rehabilitative exercises, Active Release Techniques, and manipulation to the middle and upper back, including the injured shoulder.  Most rotator cuff rehab exercises focus on improving function, movement, and flexibility of the surrounding tissues of the rotator cuff, but also focus on improving one’s posture and strengthening his/her shoulder blades.  As you strengthen the muscles between the shoulder blades, this will bring your shoulders back lessening the strain on your rotator cuff.  Active Release helps to reduce scar tissue that has formed over years of wear-and-tear and overuse for these athletes to improve flexibility and function.  Chiropractic manipulation helps to re-align the various joints that affect movement of the shoulder and improve your range of motion.

While rehabbing these injuries, one needs to follow a proper return-to-play (RTP) criteria to ensure proper recovery and to avoid a greater tear or re-injury down the road.  As long as one follows the rehabilitative program their sports chiropractor has in place for them, he/she is likely to recover well and get back to doing what he/she enjoys most.

Brian Marion, DC, CCSP, ART, CKTP

Lincoln Park Chiropractic 2202 N. Lincoln Ave Suite 1

Chicago, IL 60614 (773) 248-2790

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