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Rotator Cuff Sprain and Strains

  • Shoulder pain may be caused by inflammation or injury to the rotator cuff tendons resulting from trauma, overuse, weakness, poor posture, or a faulty movement pattern.
  • In the early stages pain may be caused by “impingement syndrome”. The rotator cuff can become irritated or inflamed when it becomes pinched between the acromion (the roof portion of the shoulder) and the humeral head (the ball portion of the shoulder joint). Some common causes of impingement syndrome are repetitive throwing, lifting, or overhead activities such as painting.
  • Impingement syndrome may cause shoulder aching or sharp pain when trying to reach behind your back. If you are experiencing shoulder pain, it is important to treat the injury early to prevent it from becoming a chronic condition.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the front of the shoulder that radiates down the arm.
  • Stiffness with loss of range of motion.
  • Catching and popping sensation.
  • Weakness and the inability to lift the arm overhead.
  • Muscle atrophy (dissipation).

Pain Management

  • Rest: Take a break from activities or sports that may be aggravating your shoulder symptoms.
  • Inflammation and pain management: Use a bag of crushed ice or frozen peas for 15-20 minutes. Place something thin like a paper towel or pillowcase between exposed skin and the ice. Consult with your medical clinician if you are considering taking anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Encourage pain free movement: After an injury your shoulder may become stiff. Early movement will help regain your motion and promote healing.
  • Stretching and strengthening the muscles of the shoulder and scapula: When your symptoms are less acute you can begin strengthening the rotator cuff and the muscles that provide stability for the scapula. You may use an elastic band or light weights to provide resistance as you gain strength. Perform stretching exercises to restore flexibility. You will need to build and maintain flexibility and strength prior to resuming sports or activities that may aggravate your shoulder. Discontinue any exercises that cause pain.

If you have a rotator cuff injury, the following treatment may be helpful.


Exercises for Rotator Cuff Sprain and Strains

Stretching and Strengthening the muscles of the shoulder and scapula

1. Pendulum Exercises

  • Lean forward and place one hand on a counter of table for support. Let your other arm hang freely at your side.
  • Gently swing your arm forward and back. Repeat the exercise moving your arm side to side and repeat again in a circular motion.
  • A light weight (small water bottle) may be used to provide gentle traction.
  • Do not round your back or lock  your knees.
  • Perform the movement for 1-2 minutes.

Pendulum Exercises for shoulder

2. Cross Over Arm Stretch

  • Relax your shoulders and gently pull one arm across your chest as far as possible, holding at your upper arm.
  • Keep shoulder blade depressed to avoid pinching the front of the shoulder.
  • Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds repeat for 4-5 times.
  • Repeat with the other arm.
  • Do not pull of put pressure on your elbow.


Cross Over Arm Stretch

3. Prone Horizontal Abduction

  • Lie on your stomach with your arm hanging straight down.
  • Raise arm straight out to the side so that it is parallel to the floor and perpendicular to the body.
  • The palm should face the floor.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions.


Prone Horizontal Abduction

4. Sleeper Stretch

  • Lie on your side on a firm flat surface with the affected shoulder under you  and your arm bent, as shown.
  • You can place a pillow under your head for comfort.
  • Use your unaffected arm to push your other arm down. Shop pressing down when you feel a stretch in the back of your affected shoulder.
  • Hod this position for 15-30 seconds then relax your arm for 30 sec. Repeat for 5 times.


Sleeper Stretch