Can Rotator Cuff Injury and Shoulder Problems Cause Neck Pain?

As per Human Anatomy, rotator cuff is a group of muscles and its tendons that helps to stabilize the shoulder and joints while making any movements.

These group of muscles mainly comprises of four muscles supraspinatus muscle, the infraspinatus muscle, teres minor muscle, and the subscapularis muscle.

What Is A Rotator Cuff Injury?

Rotator cuff problems
Rotator cuff problems

The Rotator cuff injury is one of the most common kinds of injuries which affect the shoulders. In 2008 alone, 2 million people were reported to suffer from rotator cuff injury in United States.

A rotator cuff tear may comprise of any kind of damage or irritation to rotator cuff tendons or muscles.

Dealing with rotator cuff tears is utmost necessary because tear of the rotator cuff can cause severe disability and pain in the body thereby hampering ones daily activities.

Causes and Symptoms Of Rotator Cuff Injury

The two main reasons of acute injury and chronic degeneration involved can be extrinsic or intrinsic.

The acute tears are the outcome of sudden stressful impact or motion such as heavy lift, outstretched arm or any jerky motion. The injuries can occur in form of dislocated shoulders and broken collarbone.

On the other hand cumulative tears are a result of poor biochemical balance in the body. The poor muscle or biochemical balance can be because of the aging effect of the person.

Impairment of blood supply can also be one reason for poor biochemical balance in the body. The impairing of the natural ability also leads to cumulative tears inside one’s body.

The common rotator cuff injury symptoms and signs include:

  • Ache during resting at night, if particularly lying over the injured shoulder
  • Pain in lowering and lifting the arm
  • Weakness in rotating or lifting the arm
  • Crackling sensation while moving the shoulder in few positions
  • Radiating pain in the neck

Subordinate to discussion of the symptoms, the doctor will inspect the shoulder. He will check the deformity by moving ones hand in several different directions. Arm strength will also be studied by the doctor.

Tears which suddenly happen cause acute pain. The sufferer may experience a snapping sense and instant weakness in the upper arm. Tears which develop gradually due to overuse of muscle can also cause severe weakness and pain in the arm.

Initially the ache may appear to be mild and can be only experienced while lifting the arm over the head or while reaching the top shelf of cupboard.

Also Read: Osteopathy for Treating Neck and Back Pain

Rotator Cuff Injury Test and Diagnosis

The test for rotator cuff injury is to determine if the sore shoulder is something related to rotator cuff. This is very important to understand the actual injury as it creates a great impact on the treatment that is needed to cure the sore shoulder.

Doctors always make a thorough check up about the history along with symptoms that may end up in a long term problem in your cuff.

The doctors initially undergo a physical examination for rotator cuff injury test that involves the check up for muscle wasting, deformities and any change in the physical appearance of the shoulder that is damaged.

The physical examination mainly includes palpation that includes touching and feeling of the bones that makes the shoulder joint as such. The muscle in the area that surrounds the shoulder bone is tested trying to make out the areas that cause pain or tenderness.

There are several ways the rotator cuff injury test gets conducted like assessment of the motion of both the body shoulders. This test is conducted actively or passively for determining the power of the shoulder muscles.

Then the sensation as well as the blood flow in the hand and arm gets assessed for checking on the amount of the pain and sensation in the shoulder area.

The doctors during rotator cuff injury test also check for the neck depending on the person’s age, cause of the injury and other associated symptoms to determine whether the pain is not from the cervical spine conditions.

The doctors also ask for chest pain or such symptoms to make sure that the pain is not something that is related to the heart.

There is a variety of tests that has been conducted to confirm which among the four rotator cuffs has got damaged.

X-ray and advanced imaging studies are the other tests that are conducted for rotator cuff injury test. The treatment and further diagnosis depends upon the result of the above mentioned tests.

There are several remedies available for this shoulder injury and treatment can give better relief for the patients suffering from rotator cuff injury.

Also Read: Benefits of Physical Therapy for Neck, Shoulders and Back Pain

Can Shoulder Problems Like Rotator Cuff Injury Cause Neck Pain

Studies shows that various shoulder problems (including rotator cuff injury) can cause further problems such as neck pain, arm pain, headache, etc.

This is due to the fact that these body parts share same muscles and nerves which makes the pain to radiate in certain conditions.

It is therefore important that you do not delay getting the best treatment for any initial pain symptoms.

Rotator Cuff Exercises After Injury

Human shoulder is the most fragile and complicated joints in the body of a human. And for this reason rotator cuff injury is a common injury, especially among the athletes.

For such injuries, exercises play a vital role. There are several rotator cuff exercises that can be administered at home to relieve after injury. The treatments that is done at home mainly includes ice heat, rest along with some exercise.

First of all it is important to avoid motions or activities in your daily life that can worsen your existing pain or stiffness in the shoulder. And when you start with your exercises be careful and start slowly and stop immediately the moment you feel you are not comfortable.

It is very important that you consult with a doctor before starting rotator cuff exercises after injury as they are the best people who can guide you properly.

The different type of exercises that a person can do at home for getting out of rotator cuff injury includes stretching exercises, strengthening exercises and scapular strengthening exercises.

Stretching exercises has to be done properly to put the injured shoulder into its full range of movement before moving to the following sets of exercises.

Stretching exercise is conducted normally about five to ten times in a day. Strengthening exercises can be conducted only after the doctor gives the permission to do so especially after stretching exercises.

The stretching exercises are done slowly when your doctor has advised for rotator cuff exercises after injury. The patient should be able to stretch the shoulder without pain as the movement of the shoulders should be diagonal.

Hence make sure you are completely ok before starting with this exercise regimen. The scapular strengthening exercises helps to improve the strength of the area around the shoulder blade.

For people who are suffering with rotator cuff injury this exercise can provide a great relief. These exercises can make the rotator cuff work as it is supposed to be without any pain and make the injury alright.

There may be popping while doing shoulder exercises and there is nothing to be panic and just relax as it is common. And sometimes the injury shoulder can be sore and in such cases use some ice to reduce the soreness.

Exercise at home with the help of rotator cuff exercise equipment to get yourself completely relieved from rotator cuff injuries within no time.

Make sure you are careful in doing the same and are down only after consultation with a doctor.

How To Treat A Rotator Cuff Injury At Home?

Treating a rotator cuff injury at home mostly include nonsurgical treatments which assists in improving the functioning of the shoulder. Wearing a rotator cuff support brace on regular basis helps a lot to the sufferer.

It may take months to heal your shoulder completely and therefore you may need to wait for long until you can again lead a healthy and pain free life. However in rare cases strength of the shoulder cannot be improved without a surgery.

In general when the pain is mild, the counter medication which includes ibuprofen or aspirin can relieve such pain.

However if the pain is not dealt over time, then it may become all the more noticeable. One should seek for medical help in this case. Doctor may advice following treatment options which may help in relieving the rotator cuff injury pain:

1. Rest. Taking appropriate rest is one of the best home treatment for rotator cuff injury. The doctor may advice to limit your overhead activities. Using sling in order to protect the shoulder can be prescribed. You should also avoid actions which lead to shoulder pain.

2. Ice your shoulder: Ice therapy can prove helpful for relieving the pain caused due to rotator cuff injury. You can ice your shoulder 2-3 times in a day which helps in reducing the swelling and pain.

3. Physical therapy and Strengthening exercises. Specific exercises can restore the strength of the shoulder. Such exercise programs include stretches in order to improve the flexibility and motion range. Strengthening of the muscles which supports the shoulder can relieve the pain and avoid further injury.

2. Anti-inflammatory prescription. Drugs like naproxen and ibuprofen reduce swelling and pain and are most helpful.

5. Steroid injection. In case, medications, rest, and physical therapies fail to relieve one from pain, then injection of a cortisone preparation can be helpful.

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