What is Rotator Cuff Syndrome and how to treat it

Rotator cuff syndrome, also known as shoulder impingement syndrome, occurs when there is an injury to the structures that help stabilize this region, causing symptoms such as shoulder pain, in addition to difficulty or weakness in raising the arm, and can be caused either due to tendonitis or partial or total rupture of tendons in the region.

The rotator cuff is formed by a set of four muscles responsible for moving and providing stability to the shoulder, which are the infraspinatus, supraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis, together with its tendons and ligaments. The injuries in this region usually occur due to inflammation caused by wear, irritation or an impact due to excessive use of the joint, which is more common in athletes or people who work carrying weight with their arms.

To treat this syndrome, rest, ice application and physiotherapy are indicated, and the orthopedist may also recommend the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ketoprofen, to relieve pain or, in cases where there is no improvement, it can surgical treatment is necessary.

Main symptoms

Symptoms present in rotator cuff syndrome include:

  • Shoulder pain, which can be sudden when lifting the arm or be persistent even at rest, usually in the front or side of the shoulder;
  • Decreased strength in the affected shoulder;
  • Difficulty placing your arm behind your body, to dress or comb your hair, for example.
  • There may be swelling in the affected shoulder.

Symptoms may worsen at night or whenever efforts are made and, in addition, in the most severe cases and without treatment, it is possible to occur until the inability to move the shoulder.

How to confirm

To diagnose rotator cuff syndrome, the orthopedist or physiotherapist evaluates the symptoms and performs a physical examination of the shoulder to detect changes.

The doctor may also request additional tests such as radiography, ultrasound or MRI of the shoulder, both to help confirm the diagnosis, to observe the degree of the injury or if there are other types of associated injuries on the shoulder, scapula or arm, which can cause or intensify symptoms. Learn to differentiate what are the main causes of shoulder pain and what to do in each case.

What are the causes

An injury to the rotator cuff can have several causes, ranging from progressive wear of the joint, shoulder irritation due to the appearance of spurs in the bone or damage to the tendon during repetitive activities or weight lifting for a prolonged time. The people most at risk for this syndrome are:

  • Physical activity practitioners, especially those who frequently make repetitive arm movements, such as tennis players, goalkeepers, swimmers and basketball players;
  • Workers who perform repetitive arm movements, such as those working in the field of construction, carpentry or painting, for example;
  • People over the age of 40, as aging increases the risk of wear and tear and degenerative lesions.

In addition, it is believed that there may be a genetic component involved in this syndrome, since it is more common among members of the same family.

How the treatment is done

The treatment of rotator cuff syndrome is indicated to reduce inflammation of the joint and help its regeneration, with rest of the shoulder, application of ice and physical therapy, which is very important to help restore stability and strength in the affected shoulder. . Check out physiotherapy exercises to do at home that help with shoulder recovery.

The orthopedist may also recommend the use of analgesic or anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Dipyrone, Diclofenac or Ketoprofen, for example, to relieve pain and facilitate recovery. In some cases of persistent pain, injections of corticosteroids into the joint may be necessary.

The treatment can last from 2 weeks to several months, however, in cases where the pain cannot be relieved, the orthopedist may indicate the performance of a surgery in which the doctor will identify and repair the injury. Surgery can be through opening the skin or using a microcamera and special instruments, a technique called arthroscopy. Find out how recovery is performed from shoulder arthroscopy.