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I’ve always thought about possibly going through more schooling to become a physical therapist when I was still in school. The idea of having even more knowledge excited me, but my wallet starting to bark at me!

Anyway, it bothers me when someone says something to me along the lines of “I’m hurt and don’t know what to do” or “this hurts when I do this did I hurt this specific muscle I heard about on the Internet?”

Since it is NOT in my scope of practice to put my hands on athletes to try and “figure it out”, it just bothers me that I do not have that knowledge base.

What I mostly see is kids wanting to find out the root cause of an injury or a hiccup so they can figure out why it happened. Such as, “I think I tore/sprained my [insert muscle or structure here]”.

The idea of this post was to learn more about rotator cuff injuries, and to see what the internet tells our athletes. I literally typed in “rotator cuff injuries” and picked out the most important questions I thought should be highlighted.

“How do I know if i damaged my rotator cuff?”

According to the Mayo clinic, here’s how:

  • there is a deep, dull pain within the shoulder (at rest? when moving?)
  • it disturbs your sleep, especially if you lie on that particular shoulder
  • it is difficult to reach up and behind your body (putting arm into external rotation and extension)
  • may be accompanied with arm weakness

Whenever a tear occurs, it is because the tissue has been overloaded past its maximal eccentric capacity. TO prevent rotator cuff injuries, you MUST strengthen your rotator cuff daily. Here are some simple exercises to start with:

  • Side lying ER at 45*
  • Bent Banded W’s
  • Cable ER

“What does it feel like to have a torn rotator cuff?”

According to Affinity Health, here’s what it feels like”

  • you may feel pain radiate down the side of your arm or in the front of your shoulder
  • having a “dead arm”
  • the pain may be noticeable when you lift your arm overhead

If you are going through any of these symptoms, I would recommend not throwing a baseball and give your arm some TLC (Ice, compression, elevation).

“Can a rotator cuff tear heal on it’s own?”

There was an interesting study I found on an affiliate website about rotator cuff injuries healing on their own. Click here for the article.

  • Most of the time, according to some research, surgery is not the best option and has been shown to be ineffective
  • approximately 6 out of 10 patients do not properly heal after rotator cuff surgery, doctors recommend stem cell injections to repair the tear
  • the structures within and surrounding the rotator cuff become weak after a tear. Working on strengthening the rotator cuff is another great option

“How can you fix┬árotator cuff tendonitis?”

According to the Cleveland clinic, here’s how”

  • stop or decrease the activity that bothers your rotator cuff (in this case, it is throwing a baseball)
  • apply ice to the affected area
  • take anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce the pain

Cease from throwing for about 48 hours and take the conservative approach to your arm and lightly stretch the arm during this time. Once the 48 hours have gone by, I would recommend performing some arm exercises before you throw. If this is painful, you are not ready to throw. If there is no pain, begin to LIGHTLY throw.

I think your best bet to not injure your arm is to keep your shoulder blades as strong as possible, and maintain the endurance and strength of the rotator cuff. Make sure your arm moves well, and make sure your arm is strong!

Jarad Vollkommer, CSCS

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