The Rotator cuff is a network of four muscles and tendons located in the shoulder and upper back area that connects the upper arm to the shoulder blades. The tendons of the rotator cuff provide stability to the shoulder area and the muscles allow the shoulder to rotate. In short, it keeps the arm in the shoulder socket and gives it the ability to lift and rotate. If these muscles get torn or damaged, it impacts the ability to move the shoulder and is very painful to deal with. Adults over 65 years of age are more prone to have rotator cuff injuries due to age-related degeneration of muscles.
Causes of Rotator Cuff Pain
Rotator cuff problems can happen due to overuse of the shoulder, injury to the shoulder and sleeping with your arm over your head or carrying heavy bags on the shoulders, painting walls, or playing tennis/baseball/volleyball or swimming.
Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Injury
- A sudden tearing sensation with swelling in the area which leads to a decreased range of motion. A cracking sound while moving the shoulder.
- Rotator Cuff injury makes raising the arm above or behind the head to trigger a stabbing or shock-like pain in the shoulder area. The pain worsens with activity and may get worse in The smallest amount of exercise become challenging and painful.
- Shoulder pain may make it difficult for the patient to continue with his daily routine activities smoothly. Activities like brushing the teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed, combing hair and even sleeping become very difficult and uncomfortable.
How to Manage Rotator Cuff Pain Naturally
Mild cases of rotator cuff injury improve within weeks but the severe cases take longer to heal. Some of the natural ways to manage rotator cuff pain are listed below:
In case of severe pain, it is best to rest the shoulder to allow the inflammation to subside and protect it from extra stress. Try to sleep on the back or on the side that has no pain or place some pillows under the shoulder to help. Use a footstool to reach out things far above. One should keep the shoulder moving a little and prevent it from developing into a frozen shoulder. It is advised to use a sling to protect the shoulder from further damage. Get more sleep.
To lessen any kind of inflammation or swellings and to reduce pain, it is best to apply ice for 15 minutes every hour, using an ice pack. Always cover the skin with cloth or towel to prevent frostbite. Continue with ice treatment daily till the pain subsides completely.
One easy way to overcome pain due to rotator cuff injury is sitting in a warm water tub and allow the warm water to swirl around the injured shoulder. This relaxes the muscles and takes the pain away.
Heat increases the blood flow to the inflamed areas and speeds up the healing process. Heat relaxes muscle spasms and improves flexibility. Putting a heating pad over the injured shoulder for 20 minutes helps in relieving pain naturally.
5. Stretching and Swinging the Arms
It is important to learn proper ways to use the shoulder so there is less strain on the rotator cuff muscles. The sleeping posture, lifting arms or carrying objects posture should be changed accordingly. It is necessary to improve the range of motion with stretches like a pendulum where you bend over and let the affected arm dangle and make circles with it. Another way is to bend down and put the non-injured arm on a table for support, then allow the injured arm to hand straight down and move in small clockwise circles. This helps in preventing shoulder stiffness.
It is important to strengthen the weak muscles using low weights without stressing the tendons or muscles. The more one gets working of the muscles, the stronger their shoulder will get. Wall push-ups are a good way to strengthen the shoulder muscles. This can be done by standing about 18 inches away from a wall and putting the hands on the wall at shoulder level. Bend the elbows until you are 2 inches away from the wall and push back until elbows are straight. This gives a good muscle strengthening workout. Cross arm stretches, standing row are other strengthening exercises.
Consult a physical therapist and follow the set of exercises they recommend.
Certain Yoga postures help in relieving shoulder pain due to rotator cuff injuries.
Acupuncture is a non-surgical procedure to help relieve rotator cuff pain. It is based on the theory that a blockage of vital force causes health problems, so by using needles, the body may restore the flow of energy, improves the circulation so that pain gets lessen and one feels healthy again.
9. Anti-inflammatory Diet
- Bromelain found in pineapples is a natural way to reduce inflammation and swellings. Bromelain helps in the growth of cells in the injured tendons and promote healing. So, one should drink pineapple juice on a regular basis or take bromelain supplements. Including ginger, turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, blueberries in daily diet is a great way to heal from rotator cuff injury. Ginger tea early morning and turmeric milk at bedtime are a great way to recover faster. Curcumin in turmeric is the best-known anti-inflammatory. Curcumin capsules are also readily available in the stores. It is recommended to take Vitamin C and Vitamin E supplements to help reduce pain.
- Herbs like Guggul, Ashwagandha, Boswellia effectively helps in healing of torn muscles.
- Massaging with Essential oils like peppermint oil is very useful. Peppermint oil may be blended with coconut oil or almond oil for better results. Other oils like lavender oil, evening primrose and arnica are equally helpful.
10. Quit Smoking
Nicotine slows down the healing process. Smoking also leads to more infections.
Rotator cuff tears then to enlarge or stabilize in size. The goal is to relieve the symptoms. It takes several months for a full recovery; one should not pass through the pain or hurry through the treatment. It is very important to be patient.