Getting Active Again After a Rotator Cuff Tear

Getting Active Again After a Rotator Cuff Tear

Your first good stretch of the morning is possible, in part, because of your rotator cuff — a collection of muscles that cushion and safeguard the bones in your shoulder. If your rotator cuff is injured, not only is it painful, likely keeping you up at night, but you’ll notice weakness with certain activities as well. . 

Caring for your shoulder may not be at the top of your priorities, but joint care is essential for both athletes and aging individuals. At Rapid City Orthopedics, our staff of warm professionals is led by Joseph L. Humpherys, an orthopedic sports surgeon who specializes in joint repair and preservation. Conveniently located in Rapid City, South Dakota, we focus on helping you heal so you can get back to an active life.

What happened to my shoulder?

What happened to your shoulder is what happens to an estimated 2 million adults each year - a tendon tear in your upper arm. When that happens, you may or may not feel it, as small tears may not be painful with only minimal symptoms.

Continuing your daily life with a rotator cuff tear will eventually catch up to you, though. Without care, the tear will exacerbate, eventually becoming painful enough that you seek out a specialist. Dr. Humpherys has years of experience treating rotator cuff injuries, which are most common among people over 40, and in athletes who frequently utilize an overhead or overhand motion, as in tennis and baseball.

Similarly, people working in occupations that require overhead work and motion, like painters and carpenters, are at increased risk of experiencing a rotator cuff tear. Young people who don’t play sports could still tear their rotator cuff as a result of a traumatic injury, such as a fall. 

How can I fix it? 

Your rotator cuff is essential to maintaining a healthy and full range of motion. After an injury, most people will benefit from conservative treatments like rest, using a cold compress on the affected area, wearing a sling or splint, taking anti-inflammatories and being mindful of what activities and movements hurt your shoulder. 

Significant rotator cuff tears may need more support, as they may not respond to less-invasive treatments. For injuries of this severity, Dr. Humpherys may need to perform rotator cuff surgery. 

While Dr.Humpherys is a deeply experienced and well-respected orthopedic surgeon, his goal is always to keep as many people as possible off of the operating table, instead opting for conservative treatment options. 

What happens after my treatment?

Healing from your rotator cuff treatment is often easier than you think. While you won’t be able to jump right back into the activities that you love, Dr. Humpherys will create a healing plan for you that caters to your body’s unique needs. That often involves a combination of treatments, with the specifics depending on what Dr.Humpherys determines is right for you. 

If you’re recovering from a rotator cuff repair surgery, you’ll spend some time between resting and specific physical therapy exercises according to Dr. Humpherys’ orders. After your body has had a chance to recover naturally, you will need physical therapy. People who have less severe rotator cuff tears may benefit from physical therapy, as well. 

Physical therapy usually involves a variety of strengthening exercises, performed once or twice daily. As you get stronger, Dr. Humpherys will continue to monitor your progress. 

While the timeline can vary, minor rotator cuff tears will generally heal on their own within four months. Larger tears will usually be resolved in six months. But significant tears, like the tears that lead to surgery, could take a year to heal completely. 

I’m ready to get active after my rotator cuff tear

Dr. Humpherys is committed to helping you feel like you’re ready for anything that comes your way. The healing process for significant rotator cuff tears may be a long one, but we’re here to assist you through a complete recovery. Call 605-755-6730, or book an appointment for a consultation with us online. 

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