Category Archives: Shoulder

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PT News June 2022

PT News PTandMe

This time in PT News we recap what our clinics have been posting throughout June 2022. We are excited to bring you current physical therapy-based posts featuring published articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

Rotator Cuff Prevents Shoulder Pain

1. How Your Rotator Cuff Prevents Shoulder Pain

Written by Advance Rehabilitation with locations throughout Georgia.

You don’t know what happened. You were just playing catch with your child and you just threw “too hard” and the next day your shoulder hurt. Or maybe you were out cutting tree branches and the next morning you could barely raise your arm. How about you just woke up and had a pain in the shoulder that just did not go away or even got worse the more you used that arm. You decide to see your family physician and you hear the words “Your pain is coming from your rotator cuff.” You think “Great! But what is a rotator cuff and why is it hurting my shoulder?”   Read more

 

Hiking Advice

2. A Physical Therapist’s Hiking Advice

Written by Carolina Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine an outpatient physical therapy practice with locations throughout South Carolina.

My husband and I spend an amazing weekend at Yosemite National Park in California last year. We are not avid hikers, but we could not resist going on multiple hikes when we were there. We decided to go on a very long hike, Upper Yosemite Falls. It is over a 7-mile round trip with over 2500 elevation gain. We did some research before the hike to see what all we need to survive that hike. Read more

 

Low Back Pain Physical Therapy

3. Balance Training to Help Prevent Lateral Ankle Sprains

Written by The Center for Physical Rehabilitation, an outpatient physical therapy group with locations throughout Greater Grand Rapids, MI.

Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in the United States with approximately 28,000 occurring per day (Kaminski et al., 2013). Ankle sprains are estimated to make up 45% of all athletic injuries. As an athletic trainer in the secondary school setting, these seem to occur on a weekly basis. Due in part to some quarantine boredom in mid-2020, balance training was a solution found by way of a 16-year-old research study.   Read more

We hope you enjoyed our picks for the PT News June 2022 edition.

Find these locations and others to start feeling better today!

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Sleeping with shoulder pain.

Sleeping With Shoulder Pain

Sleeping with shoulder pain.

Waking up with shoulder pain can be uncomfortable and even irritating at times. It often leaves you wondering, “What could I have possibly done” but in most cases, the fix is a lot easier than the pain makes it out to be. Something as simple as visiting your physical therapist or even sleeping in a different position can impact the way your body feels throughout the day.

Sleeping habits that can cause shoulder pain and how to fix them.

One of the most common sleeping habits than can cause immense shoulder pain is sleeping on your side. When doing so, most of your upper body weight is on one shoulder, which can bring stress and discomfort to the joint soon after. To fix this, try laying on your back, the most proven way to avoid shoulder pain after sleeping.

If you’re part of the crowd that can only fall asleep by sleeping on your side, there is a way to help ease or prevent shoulder pain without sacrificing your comfort, which would be to hug a pillow while sleeping. When doing so, sleep on the opposite side of your ailing shoulder. Doing this helps reduce stress in the shoulder joint, along with helping prevent your shoulder from slumping forward and causing further damage in your sleep.

Note: When sleeping on your side, place a pillow or rolled blanket on your backside to help you avoid rolling over in your sleep on the ailing joint, causing more pain and discomfort.

How physical therapy could help.

In the case that you are still experiencing shoulder discomfort after trying the sleeping techniques mentioned, physical therapy should be considered a treatment option. There are several treatments that a physical therapist could conduct to get you the help your body needs to get a pain-free night of sleep.

Pain Management

Your physical therapist will help you discover and avoid painful or discomforting movements, which will allow the shoulder to heal. Heat and ice are great conductors for dealing with pain management. Electrical stimulation can also be applied to help with pain management.

Range of motion exercises

Range of motion exercises may be prescribed by a physical therapist if you have a shoulder ailment that limits mobility to your shoulder or arm. These are active exercises conducted by the patient using their strength with no external help. These exercises improve overall muscular function around the shoulder joint, helping heal shoulder-related injuries.

Range of motion around your shoulder joint is a common finding with people suffering from shoulder pain. A physical therapist can work with you to help perform these exercises and help determine the cause of your shoulder pain.

Strengthening exercises

When consulting with your physical therapist, they can help discover which strengthening exercises will be right for you, depending on the condition of the injury. The most common is resistance training. Resistance training involves weights, resistance bands, and medicine balls to help challenge the joints and muscles.

Strengthening the muscles that support your shoulder will help keep your shoulder joint stable. Keeping these muscles strong can relieve shoulder pain and prevent further injury.

Physical therapists are experts at evaluating, treating, and managing different shoulder issues. If you have any pain or discomfort that hasn’t subsided, contact your physical therapist to help decide on a treatment for you.

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Shoulder Pain Physical Therapy Can Fix

Types of Shoulder Pain Physical Therapy Can Fix

Shoulder Pain Physical Therapy Can Fix

Shoulder Pain Physical Therapy Can Fix

Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? When everything rests on your shoulders, they’re more prone to injury. Constantly carrying your children, overtraining, too much lifting, or throwing your heavy backpack over your shoulders every morning can lead to a painful injury. If you already have pain or difficulty with your shoulders, physical therapy is the way to go.
Whether it’s rotator cuff tears or other injuries to the muscles surrounding the shoulder, physical therapy for shoulder pain is often a successful, non-surgical treatment. It aims to strengthen the muscles around your shoulder to heal and improve its function and your mobility.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Not all shoulder pain is created equally! It is not all caused by the same thing. The anatomy of a shoulder is a bit complex, consisting of many different parts. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint made up of the humerus (arm bone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the clavicle (collar bone). There are many ligaments that support the shoulder, and many muscles are attached to help you move in many different directions. This leads to many potential causes of the pain you may be experiencing and here are the most common causes of shoulder pain.

Tendonitis

Tendinitis is a very common condition that often sends people straight to a physical therapist for pain relief. A tendon is a cord that connects muscle to bone. Most tendinitis is a result of inflammation of the tendon and usually affects people who take part in many physical activities, or work at a job that requires them to use lots of repetitive motions every day.
The most commonly affected tendons in the shoulder are the four rotator cuff tendons and one of the biceps tendons. The rotator cuff is made up of four small muscles and their tendons that cover the head of your upper arm bone and keep it in the shoulder socket. Your rotator cuff helps provide shoulder motion and stability. If you make the same repetitive motions every day to play your sport or do your job, such as an athlete who plays tennis or a professional painter, you could be at high risk for developing tendonitis in your shoulder. Those who are at high risk for developing this condition should be aware of how important it is to not only visit a physical therapist regularly but also rest their shoulders often to prevent chronic pain.

Tendon Tears

Splitting and tearing of tendons may result from an acute injury or degenerative changes in the tendons due to advancing age, long-term overuse, wear and tear, or a sudden injury. These tears may be partial or may completely separate the tendon from its attachment to bone. In most cases of complete tears, the tendon is pulled away from its attachment to the bone. Rotator cuff and bicep tendon injuries are among the most common of these injuries.

If you experience a partial or full tendon tear, the pain can be searing and require regular appointments with a physical therapist -but there’s good news! In a 2013 study, up to 75% of people with a full tear in their rotator cuff were able to rehab their shoulder without the need for surgery (Kuhn et al. Shoulder and Elbow, 2013 October).

Instability

Shoulder instability occurs when the head of the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket. This can happen as a result of a sudden injury or from overuse. Shoulder dislocations can be partial, with the ball of the upper arm coming just partially out of the socket. This is called a subluxation. A complete dislocation means the ball comes all the way out of the socket. Once the ligaments, tendons, and muscles around the shoulder become loose or torn, dislocations can occur repeatedly. Recurring dislocations, which may be partial or complete, cause pain and unsteadiness when you raise your arm or move it away from your body. Repeated episodes of subluxations or dislocations lead to an increased risk of developing arthritis in the joint.

Non-surgical physical therapy treatment for instability will typically focus on reducing the strain at the shoulder in a downward or backward position during functional task performance. The therapist will likely present a number of restricted motions and ways to perform functional daily tasks without putting strain on the ligaments. In the case of a painful shoulder, the therapist will recommend anti-inflammatory techniques and positions of the shoulder at night and during sustained or repetitive task performance.

Arthritis

Often people will avoid shoulder movements in an attempt to lessen arthritis pain. This sometimes leads to a tightening or stiffening of the soft tissue parts of the joint, resulting in a painful restriction of motion. Two common forms of shoulder arthritis without a previous injury involve osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

This “wear and tear” condition involves the smooth cartilage that covers the ends of the bones where they form a joint. This cartilage allows the bones to move against each other smoothly. When you have osteoarthritis, your cartilage wears away, causing your bones to rub against each other.

When working with patients that suffer from Osteoarthritis, physical therapists focus on maximizing the amount of safe motion that the shoulder can perform and provide education on how to alter your activities to stay within that motion. Patients are likely to be provided with a home exercise program that includes strengthening the uninvolved muscle groups in order to provide support for those that are inflamed or damaged.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis impacts the joint lining, or synovium, that lubricates the joint so it can move easier. Unlike osteoarthritis, RA is an autoimmune disorder. This means the body attacks itself, and in this case, it attacks the synovium. It usually affects multiple joints, typically on both sides of the body, such as both shoulders.

Bursitis

The shoulder is made up of a very complex network of moving parts. One of the main components that make up the shoulder is called the “bursa.” Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that are located in joints throughout the body, including the shoulder. They act as cushions between bones and the overlying soft tissues to help reduce friction between the gliding muscles and the bone.
Sometimes, excessive use of the shoulder leads to inflammation and swelling of the bursa between the rotator cuff and part of the shoulder blade and can become painful. Many daily activities, such as combing your hair or getting dressed may become difficult.

Impingement

Shoulder impingement can occur when the top part of the shoulder blade puts excessive pressure on the underlying soft tissues in the arm when it is lifted away from the body. As the arm is lifted, the shoulder blade rubs, or “impinges” on, the rotator cuff tendons and bursa. This can lead to bursitis and tendinitis, causing pain and limiting movement. Shoulder impingement is a condition that occurs when the top part of the shoulder blade lifts away from the body and puts too much pressure on the underlying soft tissues in the arm. As the arm lifts, the shoulder blade rubs against the bursa and tendons. If this condition goes untreated, an impingement in the shoulder can result in bursitis and/or tendinitis.

Not all shoulders are created equal, so an individualized plan for physical therapy treatment needs to be designed and instructed. Many times, there needs to be a certain amount of manual stretching and joint mobilizations provided by a trained and licensed Physical Therapist as well. The vast majority of people who suffer from shoulder impingement are treated successfully with these steps of rest, medications, stretching exercises, and the temporary avoidance of overhead reaching. If symptoms persist or if there is significant weakness present that is not improving the rotator cuff may be damaged and require further assessment from an Orthopedic MD.

Fracture

Fractures are broken bones. Shoulder fractures commonly involve the clavicle (collarbone), humerus (upper arm bone), and scapula (shoulder blade). Shoulder fractures in older patients are often the result of a fall from a standing height. In younger patients, shoulder fractures are often caused by a high-energy injury, such as a motor vehicle accident or contact sports injury. Fractures often cause severe pain, swelling, and bruising on the shoulder.

Frozen Shoulder

Adhesive capsulitis, also known as frozen shoulder, is a condition that occurs following an injury or alongside another shoulder condition. This is when the shoulder capsule thickens and becomes stiff and tight causing thick bands of tissue, called adhesions, to develop. If left untreated, frozen shoulder can take up to 2 years to go away on its own. Most physical therapists recommend that patients with frozen shoulders rest often in between physical therapy appointments to avoid developing scar tissue in the shoulder. On the chance that scar tissue does develop, the muscles surrounding the shoulder may eventually freeze up as well. This will limit your full range of motion and result in chronic pain.

Physical therapists are specialists and experts in evaluating, treating, and managing patients with an array of shoulder pain problems. If any of these conditions sound familiar, your therapist will examine your strength and range of motion, check your functional abilities (like reaching up and behind your back), and then come up with a personalized treatment plan to relieve your shoulder pain and restore your mobility. Don’t shrug it off and have a physical therapist guide you through your shoulder rehab today.

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PT News PTandMe

PT News June 2021

PT News PTandMe

This time in PT News we recap what our clinics have been posting throughout June 2021. We are excited to bring you current physical therapy-based posts featuring published articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

Beach Activities

1. Our Top 10 Beach Activities

Written by The Jackson Clinics with multiple locations throughout Northern, VA.

Summer is here and, despite the cicadas and lack of a proper Spring season, it’s time to get out and enjoy the sun. We asked our team to share their favorite beach activities. From building sandcastles to creating fantastic smoothies, our Top 10 list delivers fun and affordable activities for the whole family!  Read more

 

2. Managing Return to Work Aches and Pains

Written by The Center for Physical Rehabilitation, an outpatient physical therapy practice with locations serving Greater Grand Rapids, MI. 

Over the past several months, many people have experienced an extended time away from work due to the covid-19 pandemic but recently employees have gradually begun returning to their regular work routine. As we return to our places of employment and re-adjust to the physical demands of our jobs, we undoubtedly will experience an onset of aches and pains. Thankfully a majority of these aches and pains will resolve on their own or with some basic interventions.  Read more

 

Frozen Shoulder Physical Therapy

3. 5 Keys to Treating a Frozen Shoulder

Written by Wright Physical Therapy, an outpatient physical therapy group with locations throughout ID. 

We explore the meaning of stiff shoulder as it refers to a sub-optimal range of motion for performance that is physically and, at times, mentally debilitating. The lack of motion from a stiff shoulder can have a significant impact on daily living, vocation, and recreation. There are 5 key principles for treating the “frozen” shoulder. These apply to all shoulders which lack range of motion, regardless of the particular diagnosis.  Read more

We hope you enjoyed our picks for the PT News June 2021 edition.

Find these locations and others to start feeling better today!

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PT News PTandMe

PT News January 2021

PT News PTandMe

This time in PT News we recap what our clinics have been posting throughout December 2020 and January 2021. We are excited to bring you current physical therapy based posts featuring published articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

1. Shoulder Pain Treatment

Written by Riverview Physical Therapy with multiple locations throughout Southern Maine.

If you are looking for shoulder pain treatment in Southern Maine, the information below will help you make a better decision as well as help you avoid unnecessary and expensive healthcare treatment. There are seven common diagnoses that cause shoulder pain and usually respond very well to physical therapist directed treatment. These diagnoses are:  Read more

 

Snow Shoveling

2. Prevent Low Back Pain While Shoveling Snow

Written by Rehab Associates of Central VA, an outpatient physical therapy practice with multiple locations throughout VA. 

As I was shoveling the snow off my driveway this week, I quickly realized that I needed to adjust my technique or I was going to pay for it later. Injury can result from repetitive movements with a general lack of awareness and variability in movement and may be prevented with some easy steps.  Read more

 

3. FAQ About 3 of the Most Common Knee Conditions

Written by Evergreen Physical Therapy, an outpatient physical therapy group with locations throughout MI.

The knee is the largest and one of the most complex joints in the body. It primarily joins the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia), but also includes the kneecap (patella) and fibula in the lower leg. These bones and the muscles that surround them are connected through a series of ligaments, tendons, and cartilage (menisci) which collectively stabilize the knee and allow it to bend, twist, and rotate…  Read more

 

Find these locations and others to start feeling better today!

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winter injuries

Winter Is A Great Time To Take Care Of Injuries

winter injuries

As Mother Nature keeps bringing on the winter wind, now is the time to think about spring and summer!   Waiting to take care of these injuries when the first fair day arrives can be too late. No one wants to lose weeks to months of fun in the sun because of a lengthy rehabilitation. By taking care of these injuries now, you can have plenty of time to enjoy your favorite activities in the best kind of weather.

BACK INJURIES
From picking up leaves in the fall to shoveling snow, low back injuries are common this time of year. While a simple backache may dissipate in a day or two after shoveling out after a winter storm, if it lingers longer than a week, chances are it’s not going away on its own. Waiting until the first round of golf to find out that you can’t complete the backswing due to low back pain not only severely hinders the golf game, but can also severely hinder the recovery. The more chronic the pain is, the longer it takes to eliminate the pain once treatment is started. Pain management becomes more complex; muscle strength atrophies; and bad spinal mechanics become a difficult habit to break. Fortunately, from a simple muscle strain to a herniated disc, all low back injuries have the opportunity to be conservatively managed quickly if treatment is sought out quickly.

JOINT REPLACEMENTS
Fear of slipping and falling is often the biggest rationale people wait to have their much-needed joint replacement surgeries. While a legitimate concern, the process of recovery and length of time for recovery is often overlooked by patients. For a typical total hip replacement, it can take 12 weeks or more to feel “normal” again. For a total knee replacement, that timeline can extend to six months. By waiting until spring to have the surgery, patients forego their fun-in-the-sun for recovery and rehabilitation. However, if that same surgery were elected to be performed in the late fall or winter, then plenty of warm weather is still left in the year to enjoy the capabilities of the new joint. To address the fear of falling, simple precautions can easily be taken to minimize the risk of slip and fall in the snow following the surgery. As an added benefit, patients in the winter often experience less swelling than those in the summer, as a result of the reduced humidity.

ROTATOR CUFF REPAIRS
Similar to joint replacement surgery, shoulder surgeries are often avoided in the winter due to the fear of falling. However, again, similar to joint replacement surgeries, the length of time for recovery from this surgery is grossly underestimated. Returning to swing a golf club, throwing a ball, or even swimming laps in a pool will take a
minimum of 12 weeks of physical therapy. While a neighborhood teenager may need to be hired to shovel the snow, the winter hibernation season is an idea for resting and mending from a rotator cuff repair surgery. After completing a comprehensive rehabilitation program with your physical therapist, you will be ready to tee off with your regular golf league and enjoy your planned summer vacation without restrictions.

SPORTS EVALUATIONS AND CONDITIONING
Winter is not only the time to remedy nagging injuries, but it’s the perfect time to prepare for the athletic season ahead. Whether you are a runner, a golfer, or an over-40 league softball player, preparing for the upcoming outdoor activities can help prevent future nagging injuries. The “off-season” is the best time to undergo performance and biomechanical evaluations with a physical therapist trained in motion analysis. From this evaluation, deficiencies can be addressed and a plan for improvement implemented. Furthermore, winter is a perfect time to re-strengthen after the holidays and to condition yourself into the shape you need to be in in order to enjoy those outdoor activities and minimize the concern for strains and sprains. In just a few simple visits to physical therapy, conditioning tips and technique changes can help make the warm weather even more rewarding and enjoyable.

The winter is long and it would be unfortunate to miss enjoying any of the warm, sunny weather heading our way in a few months. Addressing lingering winter injuries now will help ensure a fun spring and summer without restrictions. Always discuss your medical options with your doctor first. Then, call your physical therapist to help accelerate your recovery and be a picture of health.

prevent sports shoulder injuries

Tips to Prevent Sports Shoulder Injuries

prevent sports shoulder injuries

If you have injured your shoulder with a fracture, strain, or a sprain, you need to rehab safely to take care of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. We usually injure our shoulders through either overuse, wear and tear of joints, trauma, or a false movement.

Common shoulder injuries include:

  • Bursitis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Torn rotator cuff
  • Fracture
  • Dislocation
  • Impingement
  • Arthritis

 

Strengthening the Shoulder Muscles

The best way to avoid shoulder pain is to reduce the risk of an injury from happening. This can be done by working with your shoulder muscles to increase range-of-motion while building joint strength. As you work to strengthen your shoulder start slow and make sure to rest between practices.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, speak to a health care professional for modified exercises. 
 

Here are some exercises that can help get lessen mild shoulder pain and prevent an injury from occurring.

 

1. External rotation with retraction
This exercise uses a gentle resistance band arm workout to help your shoulder.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take a long resistance band in both hands.
  • Have your elbows at your side (bent about 90 degrees) with your palms facing up.
  • Now gently move your forearms out to the side, about 6 to 8 inches.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as best you can. Your forearms will move out a little bit further.
  • Hold in this position for a short pause, then return to your starting position.

 

2. Side-lying external rotation

  • Lie down on your side on a mat, with your weight on your elbow if you wish.
  • Place a rolled-up towel underneath your top arm (bent) to rest between your arm and your hip.
  • Hold a small weight (1/2kg – 2 kg depending on your size and strength) in your hand.
  • Start with the weight on the floor in front of your body, and rotate your arm slowly from the elbow.
  • Your hand should come up so that your lower arm is almost perpendicular to your body. Don’t go too far, as that will put stress on your shoulder.
  • Gently bring your hand back down, and repeat. Do this exercise slowly.

 

3. Shoulder abduction with anchored resistance
This exercise uses a resistance band anchored under your feet

  • Hold the band in your hand, thumb facing up
  • Lift your arm straight out to the side to shoulder height, and lower it back down.
  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for up to 10 reps
  • Switch arms and repeat

 

4. Bilateral shoulder extension
For this exercise, grab your long resistance band and stand with your feet hip-distance apart.

  • Pass the resistance band around the net post, or if you’re doing this at home, around a pillar or another stationary object at hip height.
  • Position yourself far enough away from the anchor point that there is tension in the band.
  • Hold one end the resistance band in your hands with your palms facing up, and your thumbs rotated outward.
  • Keeping a tight hold of the resistance band, bring your arms back (keep them straight) until it is against your side.
  • Bring your shoulder back and squeeze your shoulder blades together.

 

When is it time to get help?

Shortly after an injury or pain, you should start with the first steps of recovery rest, ice, and protection. If your shoulder pain doesn’t subside, a physical therapist can help guide you through a treatment plan tailored specifically to your needs. If you experience pain while doing an exercise program, stop immediately, and consult your healthcare provider.

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PT News PTandMe

PT News July 2019

PT News PTandMe

This time in PT News we recap what our clinics have been posting throughout July 2019. We are excited to begin a new year of new posts featuring published articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

when your arm is a pain in the neck

1. When Your Arm is a Pain in the Neck
Written by The Jackson Clinics with multiple locations throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland.

Many times, the initial discomfort results from nerves in the neck being pinched because the shoulder blade is not positioned correctly. Raising your arm above your head takes the stretch off the nerve and provides relief, but carrying something like a bag of groceries increases the stretch on the nerve, thus escalating the pain.  Read more

 

hydrate

2. Hydration During Exercise and Competition

Written by Mishock Physical Therapy, an outpatient physical therapy practice throughout the PA’s Montgomery, Berks, and Chester Counties. 

The fact that the body is made up of 60% water, and the brain 85%, makes water an essential nutrient for bodily function. Without adequate hydration, sports performance will be negatively affected, and serious illness, or death, can occur. Read more

 

rotator cuff exercises

3. 4 Exercises for Rotator Cuff Strength

Written by Spectrum Physical Therapy with 3physical therapy locations in CT. 

This week, we will go over the rotator cuff anatomy, and provide you with 4 of our go-to exercises for strengthening the rotator cuff! Read more

Find these locations and others to start feeling better today!

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PT News PTandMe

PT News June 2019

PT News PTandMe

This time in PT News we recap what our clinics have been posting throughout June 2019. We are excited to begin a new year of new posts featuring published articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

1. 8 Great Pelvic Floor Stretches to Do During Pregnancy
Written by Ability Rehabilitation with multiple locations throughout Orlando and Tampa Bay.

retching and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy can help relieve your aches and pains — and alleviate stress and tension too. Pelvic floor stretches will also help you have an easier delivery and decrease your risk of urinary incontinence later on.  Read more

 

get active square

2. Get Active to Stay Active

Written by Rebound Physical Therapy, a privately owned, outpatient physical therapy practice throughout Central Oregon.

Summer is a time to have fun and spend time outdoors. It is an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine. It’s a time when you can go out for a walk and roll down the windows and take in everything that nature has to offer, allergies and all. Read more

 

3. For Shoulder Relief Try These Home Remedies

Written by Sport and Spine Physical Therapy with 4 physical therapy locations in Southern, WI.

Shoulder pain can be one of the most disabling problems to deal with. Whether you realize it or not, you use your shoulder pretty frequently throughout most days, as it permits practically any movement that involves your arms. Read more

Post Surgical Rotator Cuff Physical Therapy

Post Surgical Rotator Cuff Tear Physical Therapy

Post Surgical Physical Therapy after Rotator Cuff Tear Surgery

Post Surgical Rotator Cuff Physical Therapy

A patient will typically be referred for rotator cuff tear surgery when 90% or more of the tendon is torn. The most common causes for a rotator cuff tear and rotator cuff injuries are aging, overuse of overhead activities and heavy lifting. Surgery should never be taken lightly, so we wanted to take some time to inform you about what to bring before surgery, things that can help you immediately after and then give an idea of what to expect as you go through a post-surgical rotator cuff tear physical therapy treatment plan. These are general guidelines. More specific expectations can be given by your healthcare provider.

Items to bring with you before rotator cuff tear surgery

  • Sling
  • Ice Pack or Cold Therapy Unit

Using your sling

  • You will usually wear it for about 4 weeks. (Removing only to wash up and do exercises)
  • Avoid ANY active reaching or lifting up to 6 weeks
  • Getting Dressed
    – Place the involved arm in the sleeve first.
    – Put your belt in your pants first.
    – Slip-on shoes are recommended.
  • Sleeping
    – It may be more comfortable sleeping in a recliner instead of a bed.
    – Support your arm with a towel roll or pillow if lying down.
  • Avoid showering for the first couple of days.  (Once able to shower, lean over to let your healing arm hang away from your body, while you use the other to wash.)

Icing your shoulder (Ice Pack or Cold Therapy Unit)

  • Ice for 20 minutes in your waking hour for the first few days.
  • Decrease to 3-5 times a day as needed for pain.

General Care

  • Change dressing daily as recommended by your physician/nurse.
  • No driving especially if the right arm and if taking pain medications.
  • Walk around your home at least 1 time each hour to prevent blood clots.
  • Begin therapeutic exercises as soon as instructed

After being cleared for physical therapy, the normal course of a POST-SURGICAL rotator cuff tear physical therapy has been described as having five stages:

Stage 1: Immobilization

There is a mandatory period of rest for the arm following a rotator cuff tear surgery. The tendons have been repaired but need to wait through the biological healing phase in order to be able to accept the strain of moving the arm. This period may last 4-6 weeks and may be intermittent with the therapist being able to do slight motions to the arm to keep the joint from getting stiff.

Stage 2: Passive motion

During and after the immobilization phase, you’ll begin performing passive motion exercises. At first, the therapist will provide the muscle to move the arm, but over time, you’ll be educated in the use of pulleys, stretch straps and table stretches to allow the joint to move while keeping the muscles fully relaxed.

Stage 3: Active-Assisted motion

Once the shoulder has achieved full expected passive motion, and with the permission of the surgeon, your therapist will begin active-assisted motion. This type of exercise uses less than 100% of the surgical shoulder’s power to move the arm. The therapist may instruct you in pendulum exercises that employ gravity and momentum. Self-ranging exercises use the uninvolved arm to move the involved arm, either against the weight of gravity or lying down so that the weight of gravity is minimalized. The surgical arm’s responsibility will slowly increase up to 100% of the weight of the arm. Then, you’ll be ready for active motion.

Stage 4: Active motion

The active motion phase begins when the arm is able to carry its own weight against gravity but is not yet ready to lift, push or pull objects. During this phase, your therapist will demonstrate safe motion patterns of the shoulder and shoulder blade. They will monitor the coordination of movement between the muscles to check for specific weaknesses that could put a strain on the repair. Once you can achieve full expected active range of motion against the weight of gravity, and with your physician’s approval, you’ll be ready to add weight.

Stage 5: Strengthening

The strengthening program may start out slowly. Be patient! The muscles are relearning how to work together so inflammation of the tendons and bursae are still a risk in this phase. Your therapist will recommend exercises that you can do at home in order to improve the arm’s tolerance for strength and to reduce the strain on the arm when you come into therapy. Over time, the therapist will demonstrate ways that you can safely use the arm for pushing up from a chair, pulling a door open, reaching into a cabinet and other activities of daily living.

Post-surgical rotator cuff tear physical therapy care can vary based on the patient’s needs and ability levels. Depending upon the severity of the rotator cuff tear, physical therapy can work with patients to heal the tendon and reduce pain. To find a physical therapist near you click the button below.

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