Rotator Cuff Injuries in Bethesda

The rotator cuff is a name for the muscles and tendons that envelop the shoulder joint, making sure that the upper part of the arm bone stays secure in the shoulder joint.

What are the primary causes of rotator cuff injuries?


The most common cause of rotator cuff injuries, similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, is repetitive movement. In this case, the repetitive motion that causes the injury is done over the head of the patient.

The patients who are most at risk for rotator cuff injuries are those who play sports like tennis and baseball, and those with construction jobs such as painting and carpentry. Increase age is also a risk factor.

Other injuries can be caused by falls, by lifting or pulling something wrong, or by the growth of bone spurs on the shoulder joint that can irritate or damage the muscles and tendons in the rotator cuff.


The most common symptom of a rotator cuff injury is pain, and a popping sound or the sensation of tearing in your shoulder. Specifically, you will experience a deep aching pain in the shoulder that can radiate down the affected arm. It may become difficult to do everyday tasks like combing hair or lifting a coffee cup. The affected side will often experience weakness, and in extreme cases, bruising may appear on the skin.


The treatment for a rotator cuff injury depends on the severity of the tear.

Minor tears can be treated by immobilizing the affected arm in a sling, and minimizing pain and swelling by taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like ibpophen or naproxen. Activity should also be modified to avoid any movement that causes pain.

If the pain has not resolved on its own after 2 weeks of conservative care, the next step should be a trip to the local Bethesda chiropractor. A regimen of manual massage, physical therapy exercises that encourage range of motion, flexibility in the shoulder, and muscle strength can help a tear to heal, and can reduce overall pain.

In extreme cases, surgery may be needed. Large tears or tears where symptoms have lasted more than 6 months will need surgical intervention. This usually means opening the shoulder and reattaching the torn or detached tissue. The tissue can also be repaired using an arthroscopic technique, if the tear is small enough or in an easily accessible location. These cases are rare and a 6-8 week chiropractic and physical therapy protocols should be attempted before surgery is considered.

Rehabilitation after the surgery usually includes 1-2 weeks of immobilization, 2-4 weeks of light exercise and manipulation, and another 2-4 weeks of active exercise.


Overall, a rotator cuff injury is common and easily treatable. Over 2 million people per year visit their doctor due to rotator cuff injuries, and almost all of these can be easily treated with chiropractic and physical therapy treatments by your local chiropractor.

If you have experienced any of the symptoms listed above, it is important to call us immediately to schedule your free consultation. A rotator cuff injury, when left untreated, can become progressively worse. A trip to our clinic could prevent the need for surgery later.

By Cory Aplin D.C.

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Wednesday 10:00am - 8:00pm
Thursday 10:00am - 8:00pm
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Montgomery County Chiropractic
6931 Arlington Road T200
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 907-6533

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