Are Rotator Cuff Tears Inevitable?

Factors For Success With Your Rotator Cuff Repair
As our society stays more active into our later years, shoulder rotator cuff tears are becoming more prevalent. 13% of persons over the age of 50 and 50% of persons over the age of 80 will experience a rotator cuff tear (RCT). 1/3 of these tears will present as pain, loss of ROM, or decrease in function. If conservative measures fail, surgery may be your only option. The study below looked at positive patient outcomes with surgery and the demographics leading into it. Some factors that the patient can control included higher bone mineral density, increased higher level of sport activity and the absence of obesity. If you are preparing yourself for RCT surgery, talk to your PT or PCP on how you can manage your health to set you up for success. CLICK HERE for article.

The Subscapularis Release Miracle!! Impingement And Beyond….

Subscapularis Release for Shoulder Pain

The main purpose of the rotator cuff is to keep the head of the humerus bone centered within the shoulder joint  The subscapularis muscle functions as the internal rotator of the rotator cuff.  It serves to hold the head of the humerus down and to limit forward glide of the humerus while the arm is raised.  It is a powerful stabilizer of the shoulder.  Repetitive overhead activity such as throwing or swimming may create micro-trauma to the fibers of the subscapularis.  The healing process may lead to adhesion formation with a subsequent imbalance of the rotator cuff leading to altered shoulder biomechanics.  The genesis of shoulder impingement syndrome!

Subscapularis Treatment

Manual therapy plays a pivotal role in the effective and expeditious treatment of impingement syndrome as well as recovery from a Type II SLAP repair surgery.  Active Release Technique has been clinically shown to resolve the impingement pain caused by a subscapularis dysfunction in as few as 2-6 sessions.  We assess the length of the muscle from the lesser tuberosity of the humerus to the subscapular fossa in order to locate the lesion.  The lesion is tensioned in a slackened position as the arm is taken through a range of external rotation and elevation in order to release the adhesion.  Refer to pictures below.  The release is also demonstrated on my website at orthowellpt.com.

Standard Type II SLAP repair protocols limit the PROM of external rotation from 0-30 degrees for the first 4 weeks post-op.  Most patients are placed in a sling in an internally rotated position.  Therefore, this limits the mobility of the subscapularis.  Trevor Winnege,DPT demonstrated that massage of the subscapularis in combination with PROM during the first post-op month improved the external rotation motion of the shoulder by 24-25 degrees at the 4 week mark compared to a control group that received PROM only. Check out the free shoulder pain treatment guide to learn more.

Keeping you informed of the latest and most efficacious physical therapy interventions is our goal at OrthoWell Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy and WalkWell Rehabilitation.  Please call if you have any questions about our subscapularis release and whether it would be right for you.

All the best!

Chris Dukarski,PT, Owner of OrthoWell and WalkWell

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal disorder, following low back and neck pain (Donatelli).   Because of the mechanical demands placed on the shoulder, it is susceptible to numerous soft-tissue injuries.   One of these injuries is called shoulder impingement syndrome.  It is the result of compression of the soft tissues i.e. most typically, the rotator cuff tendon, within the sub-acromial space.  Impingement results from the cumulative stresses of repetitive shoulder motion such as pitching or sustained overhead activity such as painting.  This repetitive stress can lead to tendonitis, rotator cuff tears, bone spurs, or bursitis.

Impingement syndrome can be classified in two ways – external vs. internal and primary vs. secondary.  An external impingement affects the superior surface of the humeral soft tissues in the sub-acromial or coraco-acromial region.  Applicable clinical tests include the Neer and Hawkin’s/Kennedy tests.   An internal impingement may affect the undersurface of the rotator cuff, the posterior labrum, and is, more specifically, a post/sup impingement.  Clinical exam may produce post/sup shoulder pain with passive ER which can be alleviated with a passive posterior humeral glide.  A primary impingement is caused by the structural anatomy of the sub-acromial region.  X-Rays can determine an abnormal variation in the shape of the acromion process.  A type 3 “hooked” acromion may require surgical intervention to correct.  On the other hand, a secondary impingement is the result of dysfunctional biomechanics of the shoulder joint.  It may be due to weakness of the rotator cuff muscles, poor posture, gleno-humeral joint stiffness, thoracic hypomobility, and/or in-coordination/weakness of the scapular stabilizing muscles. And that is what WE treat at OrthoWell?

“I play tennis and developed pain in my shoulder so strong that I could not even sleep, let alone play!  After the very first treatment (ART combined with joint mobilization) 80% of my pain was gone!  I am practically pain free now after 4 visits.  Thank-you Chris!  Great job!” – DK

How do you get shoulder impingement syndrome?

The shoulder joint is called the glenohumeral joint.  It is the articulation of the top of the humerus bone with the glenoid fossa of the shoulder blade.  It is one of the most complex and most mobile joints in the body.  In fact, shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal disorder, following low back and neck pain (Donatelli).   Because of the mechanical demands placed on the shoulder, it is susceptible to numerous soft-tissue injuries.   One of these injuries is called shoulder impingement syndrome.  It is the result of compression of the soft tissues between the top of the humerus and the undersurface of the acromion process of the shoulder blade.  The most commonly traumatized soft tissue is the rotator cuff tendon.  Impingement results from the cumulative stresses of repetitive shoulder motion such as pitching or sustained overhead activity such as painting a ceiling.  This repetitive stress can lead to tendonitis, rotator cuff tears, bone spurs, or bursitis.

Your physician may classify the syndrome as either a primary or secondary impingement.  A primary impingement is caused by the structural anatomy of the area below the acromial process.  Your physician may determine through X-ray that you have an abnormal variation in the shape of your acromion process.  A type 3 “hooked” acromion makes you more susceptible to impingement and this may require surgical intervention to correct.  On the other hand, a secondary impingement is mostly the result of dysfunctional biomechanics of the shoulder joint.  It may be due to weakness of the rotator cuff muscles, poor posture, shoulder joint stiffness, and/or incoordination/weakness of the scapular stabilizing muscles.  So how do we treat shoulder impingement syndrome at OrthoWell?   Click on the “How do we treat?” link, and click on shoulder impingement syndrome.

“I play tennis and developed pain in my shoulder so strong that I could not even sleep, let alone play!  After the very first treatment (ART combined with joint mobilization) 80% of my pain was gone!  I am practically pain free now after 4 visits.  Thank-you Chris!  Great job!” – DK

What are the BEST shoulder exercises?

Everything we do at OrthoWell is evidence-based!  Maximizing results in minimal time depends on the expertise of the clinician. As our knowledge of biomechanics and muscle function improves, more of an emphasis is placed on scientifically based rehabilitation protocols.  This is particularly true regarding the shoulder and scapulothoracic complex.  In the February 2009 volume of JOSPT, Mike Reinold, the Boston Red Sox team physical therapist, presented a thorough analysis of the shoulder and scapular stabilization exercise literature.  One of the most effective exercises for each muscle will be presented.


Supraspinatus
*Full Can Exercise
*Enhances scapular position>
*Decreased deltoid compared to empty can
*Minimizes superior humeral translation

Infraspinatus/Teres Minor
*Side-lying ER
*Minimal capsular strain
*25% increased EMG using towel roll
*Highest EMG for infraspinatus

Subscapularis
*IR at 90 deg abd
*Position of shoulder stability
*Enhanced scapular postion
*Less pectoralis activity than 0 deg abd

Serratus Anterior
*Push-up with plus
*Easy position to resist protraction
*High EMG activity
*Also activates subscapularis

Lower Trapezius
*Prone full can at 135 deg abd
*Full can = horiz abd with ER(thumbs up)
*High EMG activity
*Also activates infraspinatus, teres minor, Mid traps, supraspinatus

Middle Trapezius
*Prone Full Can at 90 deg abd
*High EMG activity
*Also activates infraspinatus, teres minor, Mid traps, supraspinatus

Rhomboids
*Prone Row
*Below 90 deg abduction
*High EMG activity
*Good ratio of upper, mid, low traps

Combo Exercise
*Bilateral T-band ER
*25% increased EMG ER’s with towel roll
*Good ratio upper:lower traps per McCabe
*Emphasize scapula retraction and post tilting

In addition, it is clinically imperative to ensure proper technique during all therapeutic exercises especially as you progress to other exercises such as plyometrics, closed chain UE exercises, and sport- specific exercise training. Proper exercise TECHNIQUE and proper exercise CHOICE is required to effectively treat the muscular imbalances seen in most shoulder pathologies.

OUCH!!…My shoulder hurts!!

Shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal disorder, following low back and neck pain (Donatelli). Because of the mechanical demands placed on the shoulder, it is susceptible to numerous soft-tissue injuries. One of these injuries is called shoulder impingement syndrome. It is the result of compression of the soft tissues i.e. most typically, the rotator cuff tendon, within the sub-acromial space. Impingement results from the cumulative stresses of repetitive shoulder motion such as pitching or sustained overhead activity such as painting. This repetitive stress can lead to tendonitis, rotator cuff tears, bone spurs, or bursitis.

Impingement syndrome can be classified in two ways – external vs. internal and primary vs. secondary. An external impingement affects the superior surface of the humeral soft tissues in the sub-acromial or coraco-acromial region. Applicable clinical tests include the Neer and Hawkin’s/Kennedy tests. An internal impingement may affect the undersurface of the rotator cuff, the posterior labrum, and is, more specifically, a post/sup impingement. Clinical exam may produce post/sup shoulder pain with passive ER which can be alleviated with a passive posterior humeral glide. A primary impingement is caused by the structural anatomy of the sub-acromial region. X-Rays can determine an abnormal variation in the shape of the acromion process. A type 3 “hooked” acromion may require surgical intervention to correct. On the other hand, a secondary impingement is the result of dysfunctional biomechanics of the shoulder joint. It may be due to weakness of the rotator cuff muscles, poor posture, gleno-humeral joint stiffness, thoracic hypomobility, and/or in-coordination/weakness of the scapular stabilizing muscles. And that is what WE treat at OrthoWell?

“I play tennis and developed pain in my shoulder so strong that I could not even sleep, let alone play! After the very first treatment (ART combined with joint mobilization) 80% of my pain was gone! I am practically pain free now after 4 visits. Thank-you Chris! Great job!” – DK

Shoulder Exercises: The Evidence

Everything we do at OrthoWell is evidence-based! Maximizing results in minimal time depends on the expertise of the clinician. As our knowledge of biomechanics and muscle function improves, more of an emphasis is placed on scientifically based rehabilitation protocols. This is particularly true regarding the shoulder and scapulothoracic complex. In the February 2009 volume of JOSPT, Mike Reinold, the Boston Red Sox team physical therapist, presented a thorough analysis of the shoulder and scapular stabilization exercise literature. One of the most effective exercises for each muscle will be presented.


Supraspinatus
*Full Can Exercise
*Enhances scapular position>
*Decreased deltoid compared to empty can
*Minimizes superior humeral translation

Infraspinatus/Teres Minor
*Side-lying ER
*Minimal capsular strain
*25% increased EMG using towel roll
*Highest EMG for infraspinatus

Subscapularis
*IR at 90 deg abd
*Position of shoulder stability
*Enhanced scapular postion
*Less pectoralis activity than 0 deg abd

Serratus Anterior
*Push-up with plus
*Easy position to resist protraction
*High EMG activity
*Also activates subscapularis

Lower Trapezius
*Prone full can at 135 deg abd
*Full can = horiz abd with ER(thumbs up)
*High EMG activity
*Also activates infraspinatus, teres minor, Mid traps, supraspinatus

Middle Trapezius
*Prone Full Can at 90 deg abd
*High EMG activity
*Also activates infraspinatus, teres minor, Mid traps, supraspinatus

Rhomboids
*Prone Row
*Below 90 deg abduction
*High EMG activity
*Good ratio of upper, mid, low traps

Combo Exercise
*Bilateral T-band ER
*25% increased EMG ER’s with towel roll
*Good ratio upper:lower traps per McCabe
*Emphasize scapula retraction and post tilting

In addition, it is clinically imperative to ensure proper technique during all therapeutic exercises especially as your patient is progressed to plyometrics, closed chain UE exercises, and sport- specific exercise training. Proper exercise TECHNIQUE and proper exercise CHOICE is required to effectively treat the muscular imbalances seen in most shoulder pathologies.