Rotator Cuff Tear St. Louis, MO. A rotator cuff tear can not only make physical activities like sports or the physical requirements of your job more difficult, but it can also impede daily activities like brushing your teeth or pouring a cup of coffee. Our St. Louis team of physical and occupational therapists at Axes Physical Therapy will work to treat your rotator cuff tear with a personalized treatment plan that will safely return you to full strength and mobility – free from pain. Fill out our online form or schedule an appointment today to get started on your road to recovery.
Our locally owned and operated network of physical therapy clinics throughout Greater St. Louis and Missouri is led by physical and occupational therapists who have dedicated their lives to helping individuals like you in the Greater St. Louis area achieve the mobility and physical wellness you desire. Our extensive clinical expertise, evidence-based practices, and background as movement experts equip us to successfully guide you in your rotator cuff injury recovery. Begin working with a committed physical therapist at Axes Physical Therapy today. Contact us now or learn more about the location most convenient for you.
A rotator cuff tear can be caused by trauma or overuse over time. Over two million people every year in the United States must visit a doctor or physical therapist due to rotator cuff tears. If you have sustained a rotator cuff tear and want to get back to the activities and sports you love or are simply looking for lasting and meaningful pain relief, schedule an appointment with Axes Physical Therapy today. We are the leading physical therapy team in the St. Louis area, and our licensed physical therapists will design a personalized, evidence-based therapy program to guide you in your recovery from your rotator cuff tear.
The Rotator Cuff | Axes Physical Therapy St. Louis
The rotator cuff is a group of 4 tendons and muscles that keeps the ball of your humerus (upper arm bone) in your shoulder socket, which is relatively shallow. In addition to holding your shoulder in place, the rotator cuff allows you to raise your arm and lift it over your head. For any functional activity requiring use of your arm, the rotator cuff musculature work in concert with other larger muscles in the shoulder and scapular area to elevate or move the upper extremity. It’s the synergy between the rotator cuff and the larger, more powerful muscles, along with the bony anatomy of the shoulder, that allow us the large amount of movement in the shoulder. The rotator cuff consists of:
- The supraspinatus is a relatively small muscle that stabilizes the head of your humerus and helps you lift your arm.
- The infraspinatus is a thick triangular muscle on the back of the shoulder which assists with rotation and extension of the shoulder.
- The teres minor is a narrow muscle that works together with the infraspinatus to rotate your arm away from your body and keep the arm in place during rotation.
- The subscapularis is a triangular muscle that is the largest and strongest of the rotator cuff muscles. It helps you rotate your shoulder inward, as well as straighten and lower your arm.
The rotator cuff is essential in almost every type of shoulder movement. A healthy rotator cuff has balanced strength and control in all four muscles in order to properly rotate, raise, extend, and protect your arm and shoulder. If you have sustained a rotator cuff tear or another injury, come see the St. Louis occupational and physical therapists at Axes for a free injury screening, so we can develop an evidence-based plan for you to get you back to the activities you love.
Common Rotator Cuff Injuries
The two main causes of rotator cuff injuries are acute trauma and chronic degeneration. Trauma can occur when you fall on your shoulder or overstretch your arm. Degeneration occurs because of overuse or general weakening of the muscles and tendons with age. Whatever type of pain or injury you are experiencing in your shoulder, the St. Louis rotator cuff experts at Axes physical are here to empower and guide you in your recovery.
There are three main types of rotator cuff injuries:
- Rotator cuff tears are caused by trauma or can be more chronic in nature. A complete, or full-thickness, rotator cuff tear completely separates the tendon from the bone. Usually, a rotator cuff tear is a partial tear, which damages the tendon but does not completely separate it from the bone. They can be caused by trauma, such as falling, but most rotator cuff tears are from overuse or repetitive daily motions over time. They begin with fraying and eventually tear. Many chronic, partial thickness rotator cuff tears are asymptomatic with many people living with them unknowingly. A small injury can often reveal a chronic, partial thickness rotator cuff tear.
- Rotator cuff tendinopathy (tendinitis or tendinosis), is inflammation, irritation or degeneration of one of the tendons attaching muscle to the bone. The pain occurs in the area just outside the joint and often happens to overhead athletes or those who work with their arms overhead. The irritation is often caused by rotator cuff weakness, poor posture, and weakness of the muscles surrounding the shoulder.
- Impingement happens when the tendon of the rotator cuff becomes “impinged” during certain arm movements. Usually occurring with overhead activities, impingement syndrome can be a prelude to chronic rotator cuff irriation and partial tearing.
All three conditions can be treated successfully with conservative treatment such as physical therapy. While some complete and partial tears of the rotator cuff may need surgery, a course of individualized physical therapy with a highly-trained physical therapist can reduce symptoms and improve function significantly. Our St. Louis team of physical and occupational therapists will design a tailored plan for your rotator cuff tear recovery so that you can get back to swimming, dominating your local pickleball league, painting your walls, or carrying out necessary everyday tasks like brushing your teeth with comfort and ease.
Rotator Cuff Tear | Axes Physical Therapy St. Louis
Rotator Cuff Tear Causes and Risk Factors
A rotator cuff tear can be categorized as one of the following:
- Acute Tears. This type of rotator cuff tear happens when you sustain a specific injury. You may have fallen on your overstretched arm or tried to lift something too heavy. Acute tears can also accompany other injuries to the shoulder, such as a broken collarbone or dislocated shoulder.
- Degenerative Tears. These can also be called chronic rotator cuff tears. They happen over time and can be the result of several factors:
- Repetitive Stress. Repeating the same shoulder movements over time can cause tendons to fray and tear. This can happen when you play a sport or engage in an activity frequently—such as baseball, swimming, or weight lifting—or when your occupation requires you to perform a certain motion over and over.
- Lack of Blood Supply. As we get older our body carries less blood to our rotator cuff, meaning it is more difficult for the body to heal small tears, which can lead to larger tears. The rotator cuff is notorious for its poor blood supply.
- Bone Spurs. Bone overgrowth can also happen as we age, and bone spurs can often occur on the underside of the acromion, which serves as the roof of your shoulder. Over time, the bone can rub against a tendon, resulting in rotator cuff impingement, causing it to fray and tear.
Age is the best-known risk factor for a rotator cuff tear; the majority of rotator cuff tears are caused by the general wear and tear our bodies are subjected to over time, and are most common in people over the age of 40. Younger people with rotator cuff injuries typically develop them through acute trauma. St. Louis residents who work in certain occupations, play certain sports, or repeatedly lift heavy things or consistently move their arms overhead are also at higher risk.
Rotator Cuff Tear Symptoms
You may not always feel a rotator cuff tear, especially if it develops slowly over time. Acute tears usually cause immediate pain, but other times the symptoms are more subtle. There are some common rotator cuff tear symptoms to look out for:
- Difficulty raising your arm
- Pain or soreness with specific shoulder motions
- Pain at night or when resting, especially if you’re lying on the affected shoulder
- Weakness in your shoulder
- Hearing or feeling clicking, grating, or popping with certain arm motions
- Inability to lift things you can usually lift
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s vital that you reach out to a medical professional such as the St. Louis physical and occupational therapists at Axes Physical Therapy. We will work with your physician to coordinate a plan for your recovery. Visiting any of our locations for a free injury screening is an easy, cost-effective method to have your shoulder evaluated. For those that are noticing an increase in shoulder pain, don’t hesitate to have it evaluated. Early evaluation and treatment can help prevent a frozen shoulder – which is painful and can take up to three years to completely heal – or arthritis, which can cause permanent pain and damage to your shoulder joint. We have the knowledge and skill to get you safely back to what you do and love best, whether it’s raising your grandkids over your head or striking out the side.
Treatments for a Rotator Cuff Tear
If you have been diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear, you may be wondering what the most effective form of treatment is in the St. Louis area. In most cases, rest, icing, and physical therapy treatment methods such as stretching and strengthening exercises will be enough to help manage the symptoms, let your rotator cuff heal properly on its own, and eventually get you back to the activities you love. You may also receive anti-inflammatory medicine or injections to help reduce pain. Fortunately, surgery is only recommended in cases where the tendon is completely torn or the injury has failed to heal with conservative treatment. The professional physical therapists at Axes Physical Therapy know how to assess your condition and determine the best treatment method for you. We will work with you to implement an evidence-based, personalized plan to get you back to what you love doing, free from the pain and limitations of a rotator cuff tear.
Receive Treatment for Your Rotator Cuff Tear Today | Axes Physical Therapy St. Louis
Whether your rotator cuff tear is the result of an injury or of degeneration over time, you won’t be able to fully enjoy your life as you should until you get treatment from professional and caring physical and occupational therapists who can safely and effectively guide you in your recovery. No two rotator cuff tears are exactly the same, and at Axes Physical Therapy we create a tailored plan for you based on evidence and your individual needs. As your physical therapist, we work hard to help you restore your movement health and help you heal from your rotator cuff tear, and we look forward to seeing you once again able to high-five your clinical team on your way out. Contact us today by selecting the location nearest you or get a free injury screening to take the first step in getting back to the activities you love.