Rotator Cuff Tendon Strain
A strained rotator cuff tendon is a common and painful injury. A strain can be a result of overuse or a blow to the shoulder. A strained tendon can also result from an old injury that has not healed properly. The tendons in the rotator cuff can be especially prone to injury in athletes, or people who work or take part in an activity that repeats one shoulder movement over and over. Although the muscles in the rotator cuff itself can be injured, the majority of injuries in the rotator cuff are to the tendons themselves.
The names of the 4 rotator cuff tendons correspond to the muscles that they attach to. They are called the infraspinatus tendon, subscapularis tendon, supraspinatus tendon, and teres minor tendon. These tendons work together to support and stabilize the shoulder girdle. Although not considered part of the rotator cuff, another commonly strained tendon in the shoulder area is the long bicipital tendon.
It is very important to heal a strained tendon properly to decrease the chance of further injury or chronic problems from developing. Re-injury of a strained tendon occurs more easily than the initial injury and there is usually more inflammation around a re-injured tendon than there was during the first injury. A rotator cuff strain left untreated can easily become a chronic problem that disrupts the use of your shoulder for everyday movements, such as putting on clothes or reaching for the remote control.
Grades of Tendon Strains
Like any tendon strain, a rotator cuff strain can be classified depending on the severity of the strain. Strains can vary from a small discomfort with over stretching the muscle to a full rupture.
Grade 1 - Mild Strain
A 'Grade 1' strain feels more like a discomfort within the rotator cuff as opposed to acute pain. With a grade 1 strain there is some stretching or minor tearing of the tendon and/or surrounding tissue. These injuries usually heal quickly if treated properly with cold compression and BFST®.
Grade 2 - Moderate Strain
A 'Grade II' strain is an actual partial tear in the muscle or the tendon. It would feel like a sharp pain within the rotator cuff, perhaps even accompanied by a tearing sound. A grade 2 strain occurs when a tendon or muscle is partially torn but still intact. If you have a grade 2 strain, strength in the shoulder is noticeably reduced. Treatment with BFST® will aid in the healing process, reduce pain and help improve the health of your rotator cuff tissue.
Grade 3 - Rupture or Severe Strain
A 'Grade III' tear causes a very sharp pain within the rotator cuff at the time of the injury. There is also a significant amount of pain when attempting to raise the arm out to the side and possibly when the arm is rotated outwards, or upwards and then outwards. The stability of the shoulder is greatly reduced and pain is evident. Treatment of a complete rotator cuff tendon tear usually requires surgery to rejoin the tendon back to the muscle or bone where it has become severed.
Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Strain
The degree of strain to your rotator cuff tendon will probably affect the symptoms that you experience. They may include:
- Pain in your shoulder when you move it in a specific direction.
- Muscle spasm in the general shoulder area.
- Bruising and swelling in the shoulder area.
- Noticeable loss of strength and functionality in a grade 2 or 3 rotator cuff tendon strain.
What are the risks for rotator Cuff strains?
- Doing repetitive movements with the shoulder without properly warming up (raking, shoveling, chopping wood, using a hammer).
- Doing daily repetitive shoulder motions with the shoulder during work or sports such as lifting overhead or throwing.
- Middle aged and older population groups.
- Having a hooked acromion or bone spurs in the shoulder area.
Rotator Cuff Strain Treatments - What You Can Do!
If you have a rotator cuff strain rest is recommended, however, some careful shoulder movement is required to prevent the joint from freezing and losing range of motion. See your doctor or physical therapist for stretches that will not cause further injury to your rotator cuff. Avoid activities that cause pain or may have caused the injury and begin cold compression treatments as soon as possible.
The trick to healing your rotator cuff strain and getting your shoulder back in the best possible condition you can is getting it to heal with minimal scar tissue - something our Inferno Wraps® are great at! Even with optimum healing, there is always less elasticity in previously injured rotator cuff tendons, muscles and ligaments. However, if you heal your strain properly and treat scar tissue build up, your chance of re-injury or chronic shoulder conditions later on is much lower than average.
There are healing tools that can help treat your rotator cuff tendon/muscle strain and speed up the healing process so you can get back to a life without pain and risk of further injury. Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy (BFST®) will treat scar tissue and promote blood flow to heal your tendon quickly and more completely than other conservative methods available at home.
Although steroid injections may provide temporary relief from the pain of rotator cuff strain they should generally be avoided as they weaken the tendon and may lead to a complete rupture. If you do opt for an injection, doctors usually recommend that you do not participate in strenuous activities for several weeks to reduce the risk of a rupture.
Freezie Wrap® Cold Compression Therapy
To decrease inflammation and relieve the pain of a rotator cuff strain doctor's recommend cold compression therapy. For an acute strain, cold compression therapy within the first 48 - 72 hours and after any restrain is important to limit the amount of damage done to your tissue. Cold compression therapy will relieve pain and swelling as needed and will reduce, or even eliminate, the need for NSAIDs.
The Shoulder Freezie Wrap® is the cold compression tool you need to treat your supraspinatus tendon or muscle strain and other shoulder tissue in an effective and convenient way.
Cold Compression Therapy works by interrupting and slowing nerve and cell function in the injured area and reducing swelling that can block blood vessels. This is important because once blood vessels are blocked or damaged, they can no longer carry oxygenated blood through your tendon and tissue cells begin to break-down. Without cold compression therapy cellular break-down and tissue damage continues as the cells do not get the oxygen they need to survive. By limiting the amount of damage done to your tissue, you also limit the amount of healing that needs to occur. This is a very important step to heal your tendon strain faster and with less pain!
The deep cooling effect provided by the Shoulder Freezie Wrap® slows cell metabolism thereby reducing cellular break-down and tissue damage. Furthermore, because the cold wraps gently numb the nerves, the wraps also reduce pain!
The Shoulder Freezie Wrap® uses a supercharged cooling gel pack, that chills in the fridge, not in the freezer like ice or other freezer packs, giving you deep cold therapy without the risk of 'cold burns' or cryoburn. The medical-grade wrap keeps the cold directly off your skin preventing cryoburn while delivering cold right where you need it.
Click here to learn more about Cold Compression Freezie Wraps®
Due to scar tissue build up on the tendon and the amount of abnormally formed collagen, it can takes months to soften the scar tissue and improve the tissue of the tendon. With Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy (BFST®) you can treat scar tissue and promote blood flow to heal your supraspinatus and other tendons faster and more completely than any other methods available.
In addition, scar tissue can also bind the tendons and ligaments together within the joint capsule and surrounding the rotator cuff. The inflexible scar tissue limits the movement of these tendons and ligaments that were once elastic and allowed the shoulder its large range of motion. As a result, movement of the entire joint is limited making it difficult to lift your arm or to reach for objects. If left untreated, the shoulder may 'freeze' (a condition called frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis) altogether making movement impossible. At the very least, scar tissue leaves your tendon weaker than a healthy tendon, leaving your rotator cuff at greater risk of further deterioration and possible tearing.
Fortunately, you can treat your supraspinatus tendon with therapeutic Inferno Wraps®to soften scar tissue and improve the gliding motion and flexibility.
Not only does the Inferno Wrap® aid in healing, but it helps to prevent long term complications. Chronic pain, lack of mobility, frozen shoulder, or a complete tendon rupture are some of the more common long term complications. By treating your tendon with BFST®, scar tissue becomes softer and the tissue becomes stronger reducing the risk of chronic problems in the future.
If you are suffering from long term complications of existing rotator cuff injuries, our BFST® devices can help. As referenced on the home page, use of the Inferno Wrap® softens scar and fibrous tissue that has built up over time on the tendon and increases elasticity in muscle tissue, helping restore range of motion in your shoulder.
Once the inflammation of your rotator cuff injury has been reduced, nourishing and strengthening the tendon tissue and surrounding area is recommended. Using Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy will speed your recovery and heal your rotator cuff more completely preparing it for strengthening exercises. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to find out which exercises are appropriate for your situation.
Inferno Wrap® Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy
The rotator cuff naturally receives a limited blood supply. When you stop moving your shoulder because it hurts - the blood flow is reduced even further, limiting your body's natural ability to heal itself.
By treating your rotator cuff with BFST® you can increase your body's blood supply to the shoulder and increase your body's natural healing power.
An Inferno Wrap® is the tool you need to treat your sore shoulder because it speeds healing and relaxes the surrounding muscles. With BFST®, tissues are safely and gently stimulated. Your body responds with a rapid increase in blood flow to the area, increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to injured tissue cells to promote healing. Our Shoulder Inferno Wrap® provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief and healing with no side effects.
In addition, the improved blood flow whisks away dead cells and toxins that have built up from your rotator cuff tendon strain. When you stop moving your arm and shoulder due to shoulder pain, your muscles and other tissue can become weaker and dead cells and toxins in the area can cause further tissue deterioration - this can lead to atrophy. By clearing the area of toxins and increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients to your muscle and other tissue, the risk of atrophy (muscle weakness and/or deterioration) is greatly reduced. Keeping your upper arm, shoulder and rotator cuff tissue as healthy as possible throughout the healing process will allow you to improve shoulder strength again once your pain has gone and your strain has healed.
Click here to learn more about how BFST® and Inferno Wraps® work.
With these simple and safe home treatment therapies - Freezie Wrap® cold compression therapy and BFST® therapy, you will notice significantly reduced pain and an incredible improvement in your rotator cuff range of motion.
Remember: We recommend that you consult your doctor and/or physiotherapist before using any of our outstanding products, to make sure they're right for you and your condition.
During your recovery, you may have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your rotator cuff area until your pain and inflammation settle, and you gain more mobility and strength in your shoulder. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results!