How to Prevent Rotator Cuff Tears

How many times have you injured yourself and, confined to the couch, wished you could have avoided the setback in the first place? The fact is, there are many ways you can safeguard your musculoskeletal health and lessen your chances of getting injured.

Here at North Jersey Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Institute in Clifton, New Jersey, we encourage our clients to be active, and we also encourage them to take steps to stay healthy. When it comes to the rotator cuff in your shoulder, there are things you can do to protect this vulnerable connective tissue from injury, and we outline some of them here.

Keeping it all together

Before we get into the best ways to prevent rotator cuff tears, let’s quickly review the role this group of tissues plays. Your rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that come together as tendons to attach your arm to your shoulder, keeping your ball-and-socket joint stable. Unfortunately, or fortunately — depending on how you look at it — your shoulder joint has a very shallow socket, which is what gives your arm such an incredible range of motion. And because the socket is shallow, the area is prone to injury.

Preventive strengthening

One of the best ways to prevent a rotator cuff tear is to make sure that this group of tendons and muscles is as strong as possible, so that it can withstand whatever comes its way. If you love swinging a racket or golf club on the weekends, spend a little time in the gym during the week strengthening your shoulder. If you stop by for a visit, we can suggest a few great exercises that can strengthen your rotator cuff to ward off injury.

Don’t overreach

And we mean, quite literally, don’t overreach. Rotator cuff tears often develop when you’re engaged in activities that require you to lift your arm — painting, for example — so be sure that you approach any overhead work with caution, and equip yourself with the right tools to make the job easier on your shoulders. And when it comes to reaching up for something, grab a ladder and give your shoulder a break.

Listen up

All too often, our bodies cry out for help, only to be ignored. Rather than brushing these red flags aside, pay attention to when your shoulder aches, and give it a rest, along with some ice or heat therapy. If you hear any crackling in your shoulder when you move it, this, too, is a serious warning that something may be wrong with your rotator cuff. The bottom line is that your body knows when it’s in peril, and you need to heed these warnings.

Damage control

If injury does strike your shoulder, it will often involve your rotator cuff. Whether it’s from excessive use that leads to tiny tears along your tendons or a complete tear that takes one of your tendons out of action, you will need to come in to prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

When you come in, we’ll use advanced diagnostic imaging to get a close look at what’s going on inside your shoulder and design a treatment plan. If you only have a partial tear, we will likely recommend physical therapy to strengthen your other muscles and tendons to pick up the slack. We’ll also put you on a temporary timeout from using your shoulder to prevent the injury from developing into a full tear.

If you want to learn more about preventing rotator cuff injuries, please don’t hesitate to give us a call for more suggestions. Or you can use the online scheduling tool on this website to set up an appointment.

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