The rotator cuff is a system of muscles and ligaments in the shoulder that keep the shoulder joint in place and allow the wide range of movement that the joint is able to perform. Injuries to this area are a common occurrence, with some two million Americans visiting their healthcare provider due to problems with this body part each year. Some people are more susceptible to rotator cuff injury than others are. These include:
- People over the age of 50
- Those who participate in overhead sports like baseball, volleyball, and swimming
- Those who perform repetitive motions in their job, like construction workers, painters, factory workers, and similar
- People who do strenuous workouts involving their arms on a regular basis
The more repeated stress you put on the area and the wider range of motion you use while doing so, the greater the risk of damage.
Stages of Rotator Cuff Injury
Luckily, many of these injuries heal on their own, but it depends upon the level of progression that has occurred. The first thing that happens with a flare-up is inflammation, known as tendonitis. This is the easiest problem to treat and the most likely to heal on its own. Next comes tendinosis, which is the beginning stage of degeneration of the tendons. In the most severe cases, a muscle or tendon in the rotator cuff will tear, sometimes requiring surgery.
Watch for early warning signs:
- Pain while sleeping on the shoulder
- Pain getting dressed, especially while putting a shirt on or taking it off
- Pain while reaching behind the body, such as reaching into a back seat to get something in the car
- Instability or weakness of the shoulder joint
If you do notice a problem or your doctor diagnoses inflammation or a tear, there are still steps you can take in order to have a full recovery without more invasive action. Rest the shoulder joint as much possible, using a sling if necessary. Consult your doctor or physical therapist about appropriate range of motion exercises. Use NSAIDs like Motrin or Advil only if necessary, as these can cause ulcers and damage the liver or kidneys. Most importantly, engage in a cold therapy routine two or three times daily to keep swelling and inflammation under control.
Making Cryotherapy Easy
Applying ice bags and wraps to your shoulder several times daily can be a hassle. With an EasyCryo Portable Cold Compression System you can administer cold therapy directly to the affected shoulder quickly and efficiently. The specialized shoulder wrap allows icy cold water to cycle around the entire area, while you control the amount of compression being delivered (between 15 and 75 mmhg). The cool therapy reduces inflammation without danger of frostbite or other skin injury, and the compression encourages lymph drainage and brings swelling down.
The best part of a cryotherapy system like EasyCryo is that it is totally portable. Your life does not stop just because of an injury, and with this handy machine, you can take it to work or wherever else you need to go and administer your treatments on schedule. This speeds healing and increases your ability to comply with the recommended treatment routine. Applying cold to a muscle injury is proven to reduce the need for painkillers and shorten healing time. The faster and better you heal, the less likely you are to need invasive and painful rotator cuff surgery.