The rotator cuff is a group of 4 small muscles that among many functions, work to provide dynamic stability to the shoulder joint - that being stability when the upper arm is moving. Rotator cuff tendinopathy is characterised by pain and weakness of these muscles associated with excessive loads being placed on them. Pain will typically be felt near the tip of the shoulder, usually more on the front and side (however the back is not uncommon), and can refer down into the upper arm.
Rotator cuff tendinopathies can occur in a number of ways, such as weakness of the muscles themselves, weakness of the surrounding musculature placing excess load on the rotator cuff, or compression of the tendon due to dysfunctional movement of the shoulder blade. Multiple causes or contributing factors are present in most cases.
Treatment for rotator cuff tendinopathies is a very tailored approach to the client. A combination of manual therapy to release tight muscles and stiff joints, strapping to provide support, and most importantly, a specific home exercise program to improve strength of the rotator cuff and surrounding muscles will be a large part of the recovery process. Recovery time differs depending on severity, however because the main part of recovery is gaining or restoring muscle strength, which typically takes 12 weeks to see keepable improvements, this is the most-common timeframe.
Once your pain has subsided, strength has been restored and movement has returned, this does not mean it's time to stop with your exercises! The exercises that would have been provided to you by your physio will play a vital importance on long term management and avoiding recurrence. So if you're experiencing pain and/or weakness in your shoulder, come in and see one of our helpful physiotherapists who will help you on your path to strong and healthy shoulders.