The shoulder joint is one of two ball and socket joints in the body (the other being the hip), making it one of the most mobile joints. However, possessing significant mobility comes with inherent instability, making it very prone to injury. Over time, this mobility can lead to injuries of the shoulder, including rotator cuff tears which, unfortunately, are fairly common. Statistics show that rotator cuff surgeries are performed on between 75,000 and 250,000 individuals per year in the United States, even with several studies indicating high failure rates. While there are numerous factors associated with these failure rates, Physical Therapy has been advocated as a first line of defense by many to avoid surgery.
The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles that are responsible for stability of the shoulder. Unfortunately, rotator cuff injuries are very common, either from repetitive overuse or from trauma to the shoulder. These injuries can occur at any age, but are more prevalent later in life. We often think of athletes or heavy laborers as being the most commonly affected, but older adults can injure the rotator cuff when they fall or strain their shoulder, such as when walking a dog on a leash and the dog lurches. If left untreated, this injury can cause significant pain and severely hamper your ability to use your arm.