The Rotator cuff is comprised of four small muscles that help to control, stabilize, and move the shoulder joint. This group of muscles can tear apart from traumatic events, overuse, and fatigue, resulting in rotator cuff tears. The injuries can either be acute or chronic. Studies have confirmed that repeated microtrauma can lead to rotator cuff tears and can take several weeks, months, or even years to heal. Repeated injuries in the rotator cuff due to pinching of rotator cuff tendons can injure the soft tissues causing swelling and bruising.
Symptoms of rotator cuff tears
The tears can either be partial or full. The more severe the tear, the more painful it is. The shoulder tends to become weak and incapable of functioning. If the tear is mild, then one may notice a clicking sound when elevating their hands above the shoulder height. However, in the case of a full tear, one may experience severe pain and even find it hard to lift their elbow away from their body. In other serious cases, the tear may become very painful resulting in a tear of fibers that not only makes them painful but too weak to function properly.
Diagnosis of rotator cuff tears
A series of clinical tests are done based on one’s history to detect a rotator cuff tear and other sports-related injuries. An ultrasound scan can accurately reveal the size and location of the tear.
Who is at risk of a rotator cuff tear?
Construction workers and athletes like baseball pitchers and other sports enthusiasts are at high risk of experiencing rotator cuff tears.
Naturopathic medicine to treat sports injuries and rotator cuff tears
For pain that is not too severe, one can use ice, heat, and rest to treat symptoms. Use of a cold ice pack or cold compress can help to relieve the pain, inflammation, and swelling for all new injuries. Ice is recommended for use immediately after the injury. Heat can be used 48 hours after the injury and can help to improve the circulation of blood to the muscles, promoting repair and natural healing. When applying either heat or ice, one should be careful as it can cause skin damage. Resting helps to protect the shoulder from more stress which helps to promote natural healing. When resting, try to sleep on your back. Alternatively, you can sleep on the side that is not injured. Use pillows beneath the shoulder to avoid causing more damage. Additionally, abstain from carrying heavy loads over your shoulders as it may exacerbate the injury.
Physical therapy exercises
Workouts can help to strengthen and stretch rotator cuff muscles thus reducing stiffness, weakness, and pain. The exercises can include simply holding a 2-3 pound weight in one hand. Dumbbells, plates, or any other weighted item is recommended. Before exercising, it is a good idea to talk to a physiotherapist or doctor for evaluation. Other exercises such as the standing row or crossover arm stretch are helpful.
This can help relieve shoulder pain resulting from swelling of the rotator cuff tendons. It focuses on stimulating specific points to restore the flow of qi which can make one feel healthy after an injury.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy
This method involves the passing of sound waves via the skin to reduce pain and promote natural healing in the body. The treatment has been widely researched and found to help treat the swelling of the tendons in the rotator cuff caused by abnormal calcium deposits. The therapy can help to promote shoulder functioning and lessen the pain.
Other natural treatments
There are other herbal treatments that have been known to treat rotator cuff tears including gelatin, ginger, willow, wild yam, and devil’s claw. Turmeric also has powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that can help to reduce inflammation. Alternatively, one can drink pineapple juice as it contains a bromelain enzyme that can help reduce swelling and reduce injuries in tissues.
While most of us may overlook the role played by the shoulder, a slight injury and pain in the shoulder can halt most of our daily activities. In case you experience injury in the rotator cuff, the above are the non-invasive, natural treatment methods to consider.