In part 3 of our upper quarter and neck pain relief series, we will be discussing tears of the rotator cuff. As we mentioned earlier, the rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles that attach to the shoulder blade and form a “cuff” around the upper portion of the shoulder. The key to restoring normal function to the shoulder is the effective rehabilitation of the rotator cuff.
Aside from rotator cuff tendinitis, the rotator cuff can become frayed or torn. As with the body’s joints, degenerative changes can take place in muscles and tendons. These degenerative changes are typically seen in women after the age of 45 – 50 but can occur anytime. Over time, these changes in the rotator cuff can lead to small tears which result in limited strength, range of motion, and function of the shoulder.
Younger patients are more susceptible to full thickness tears primarily due to trauma. Work related injuries, sports injuries, and slips and falls can result in a rotator cuff tear if the conditions are right. Generally speaking most rotator cuff tears in younger people are treated with surgery.
Some of what causes neck pain and shoulder pain include trauma, cumulative degenerative changes, as well as anomalies in bony structure. Symptoms often experienced with rotator cuff tears include pain on the outside part of the upper arm, pain in the upper back and neck, and stiffness and pain in the shoulder itself.
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