Is it difficult for you to rotate your arm at the shoulder joint in a circle? Then, you might be suffering from rotator cuff injury. While discussing it, you may not have come across the role of chiropractors. Can Chiropractors Help With Rotator Cuff Tendonitis?
Yes, chiropractic care is very productive in treating most of the chronic musculoskeletal conditions including rotator cuff tendonitis.
They help by relaxing muscles, reducing inflammation and swelling through adjustment techniques, electrical stimulation, and many other ways, which we will discuss in this blog.
Our main concern behind writing this blog is to make you eligible to understand rotator cuff tendonitis, its causes, and chiropractors’ role in treating it. Let’s start!
What is a Rotator Cuff?
It is basically a cuff-like combination of four different muscles that surround the shoulder joint. Its main function is to stabilize the normal connection between two bone endings that form the shoulder joint.
Four muscles are named.
- Teres minor
These four muscles fuse to form a tendon that crosses over an acromian process to fuse there, with an underlying subacromial bursa.
Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
Tendonitis is basically an inflammatory response of tendons to regular or any instantaneous mechanical insult imposed on them. So, if it occurs in the rotator cuff’s tendons, then it is termed rotator cuff tendonitis.
People Susceptible to It
Any activity in which individuals raise their hands above their heads can lead to rotator cuff injury. Mostly, laborers and athletes are prone to it due to repeated movements. The following people are susceptible:
- Basketball players,
- Tennis players,
- Badminton players,
- Swimmers who swim for kilometers
- Wall painters,
- Windows cleaners.
The patient may present with the following complaints:
- Dull pain at the back of the shoulder and radiates to the elbow
- Overhead movement of the arm is restricted
- Clicking sounds from the shoulder on moving
- Muscle weakness of the shoulder
Causes of Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
Rotator cuff injury can occur due to the following causes:
- Trauma due to fall on outstretched hand
- Subacromial Bursitis
- Repetitive movements of the shoulder
- Formation of bone in tendon due to calcification
- Rotator cuff impingement syndrome
What is rotator cuff impingement syndrome?
This syndrome is characterized by pain on movement. The tendon of rotator cuff muscles gets trapped and compressed due to extreme pressure on it.
This pressure causes damage to either the tendon of the rotator cuff or the subacromial bursae.
Diagnosis of Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
Chiropractors often diagnose it very easily by processing it in the following manner:
Following questions you can expect from a chiropractor when you visit him for the first time:
- Onset: When did the pain or discomfort first start?
- Activity: What were you doing when you first noticed the symptoms?
- Aggravation: Is there any specific activity or movement that worsens the symptoms?
- Relief: Does anything in particular alleviate the pain or discomfort?
- Trauma: Have you experienced any shoulder injury in the past?
- Medical History: Do you have any medical conditions, or taking any medications that might be related to your shoulder pain?
A physical examination typically involves assessing the patient’s range of motion, strength, and pain levels. However, some special tests are performed to check the impingement of the shoulder joint:
The Neer test is a simple procedure where the chiropractor raises your arm straight up by your side, fully stretching the shoulder joint.
This test helps to identify rotator cuff impingement by checking if this movement causes any pain.
If the test is positive, it indicates a likelihood of impingement syndrome, highlighting the need for appropriate chiropractic treatment.
The Hawkins-Kennedy test is another diagnostic test used to detect shoulder impingement.
Unlike the Neer test, this test involves the chiropractor flexing your shoulder and elbow to a 90-degree angle and then internally rotating the shoulder.
This movement compresses the rotator cuff tendons against the coracoacromial ligament. If pain is elicited, it’s a positive sign of impingement.
How Can Chiropractors Help With Rotator Cuff Tendonitis?
Chiropractors help with rotator cuff tendonitis by going side by side with medical treatment. However alone, medicinal treatment has not shown great results. Chiropractic care involves some simple methods followed by key adjustment maneuvers and others.
Ultrasound treatment is like a deep tissue massage for your shoulder using sound waves. It boosts blood flow and speeds up healing in the rotator cuff area. This can help to reduce pain and improve shoulder movement.
Electrostimulation is the same as a gentle, tingling massage that chiropractors use to treat rotator cuff syndrome. It works by sending small electric pulses to your shoulder muscles, which can help to reduce pain and make your muscles stronger.
This stimulation encourages the body’s natural healing processes by promoting blood flow and reducing inflammation.
The chiropractic adjustment for rotator cuff syndrome involves a controlled, careful manipulation of the shoulder joint to restore its normal function and motion.
The chiropractor uses their hands or a small instrument to apply a sudden force to the joint, helping to improve physical function and reduce pain.
Trigger Point Release
Trigger point release is a chiropractic technique where pressure is applied to specific areas in your muscles that are tight or ‘knotted.’
This helps to relax the muscles, relieve pain, and improve movement in the shoulder. It can be particularly useful in treating rotator cuff syndrome by reducing muscle tension.
These exercises are very beneficial in pain relief by aiding recovery. Therapeutic exercises improve the flexibility of the shoulder joint.
Thereby increasing the range of motion of the joint. Exercises such as pendulum swings or arm raises can help.
How to Manage it At Home?
Chiropractors for rotator cuff tendonitis mostly prescribe different methods of reducing inflammation. There are the following ways to avoid inflammation and speed up recovery:
- Application of ice at the joint to reduce inflammation
- Wearing a shoulder brace is necessary to stabilize the joint
- Move the arm gently; otherwise, it will increase strain on tendons
Why it’s important to get treated for rotator cuff tendonitis?
As we all know shoulder joint is the pivotal joint for the whole arm to move. If, due to persistent strain, it gets calcified, then there will be a great decrease in range of motion, or recurring shoulder dislocations may happen.
Surgery may be the next option, so chiropractors help with rotator cuff syndrome must be consumed to avoid surgery.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care Over Other Modalities
Chiropractic care offers various advantages over traditional treatments or other modalities for conditions like rotator cuff syndrome.
- Holistic Approach: Chiropractic care considers the body as an interconnected system, seeking the root cause of the issue rather than just treating symptoms.
- Non-Invasive: Unlike surgical procedures, chiropractic adjustments are non-invasive, reducing the risk of complications.
- Drug-Free: This treatment option does not rely on medications, preventing potential side effects or dependency issues.
- Personalized Treatment: Chiropractors provide tailored treatment plans based on the individual’s condition, needs, and goals.
Chiropractic care emphasizes the body’s inherent power to heal itself.
Bairstow, a 45-year-old software engineer, leads a sedentary lifestyle due to his desk job. He is right-hand dominant with a history of occasional sports activities, primarily tennis.
Bairstow visited the chiropractor complaining of constant shoulder pain in his right arm that had persisted for nearly three months. He reported increasing difficulty in raising his arm above his head, hindering his capability to perform daily tasks and engage in his favorite sport, tennis.
The chiropractor performed the Neer and Hawkins-Kennedy tests, both of which indicated potential impingement. Bairstow was diagnosed with rotator cuff syndrome.
The treatment plan included chiropractic adjustments and trigger point release, complemented by a set of therapeutic exercises for him to perform at home.
Over six weeks, Bairstow reported significant improvements in his shoulder’s mobility and a reduction in pain. The integration of different chiropractic techniques in his treatment plan, along with the home exercises, helped Bairstow regain his shoulder functionality.
He was able to return to his daily activities and even resumed playing tennis, making the treatment a success.
This case highlights the health benefits and effectiveness of chiropractors’ help with rotator cuff tendonitis.
1. Can a chiropractor do anything for tendonitis?
Yes, a chiropractor can provide treatment for tendonitis. They use techniques like manual therapy and adjustments to relieve pain and inflammation. Additionally, they can recommend exercises to strengthen the affected area and prevent further injuries.
2. Should you massage rotator cuff tendinitis?
Massaging a rotator cuff tendinitis can be beneficial as it helps in reducing muscle tension and promoting healing by increasing blood flow to the area. However, it should be done carefully and gently to avoid exacerbating the condition, and it’s recommended to seek professional advice before starting any new treatment regimen.
3. What vitamins are good for tendonitis?
Vitamins A, C, and E, along with magnesium and zinc, are essential nutrients that can support healing and reduce inflammation in cases of rotator cuff tendonitis.
4. What is the immediate treatment for tendonitis?
Immediate treatment for tendonitis typically involves the RICE approach:
- Compression, and
- Over-the-counter pain relievers can also be used to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
This blog, focusing on chiropractic care, has specifically shed light on its numerous benefits and efficacy in treating conditions like rotator cuff syndrome.
Through real-life case studies, we have been able to illustrate the transformative power of chiropractic treatment in improving people’s lives.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Dr. John for his invaluable assistance and expertise.
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