You must have often heard about sports person, especially those associated with tennis or baseball (that involves continuous arm movement) suffer from rotator cuff injury. But what exactly is this injury? To understand the condition better, you need to know what is a rotator cuff. A rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that keep the shoulder joints stable enabling a person to rotate or lift their shoulders freely.
With time, certain activities may cause a wear and tear of the rotator cuff injuring them. The injury sustained can result from a partial or a complete tear.
A partial tear of the rotator cuff may damage the tendons, but it will remain attached to the bones. However, in the case of a complete tear, the injury is more severe that penetrates deep within detaching the tendons off the bone (humerus).
Who can suffer from a Rotator Cuff Injury?
While the condition can affect anyone, people under the following situations stand a greater chance of injuring their rotator cuff.
Symptoms associated with a Rotator Cuff Injury
People with a Rotator Cuff Injury may exhibit the following symptoms and associated discomfort.
When athletes begin training for sports and events and put themselves under the pre-requisite training for such an event, they might experience pain as a result of bone mass increase in areas of maximum stress. If however, the training and exertion is too rapid, the bone might begin to fail and the stress reaction might cause the bone to pain and eventually, it can cause fracture in extreme cases.
The athlete will experience unbearable pain at night before such a stress fracture happens. An X-ray is needed to determine, if such a stress fracture has developed and the extent of the fracture. Prior to the fracture, the areas affected will develop black or blue bruising.
Hip bone is often the site of injury and many different factors may cause trauma to it. Stress fractures are caused by prolonged and repetitive injury and are common in long-distance running athletes. Hip impingement might result from abnormally shaped hip bones wherein the bones grind against each other and deteriorate the connecting joint. The iliac crest (present in the greater pelvic part) of the hip bone impacting the muscle overhead, can lead to hip pointer injuries.
The trapezius muscle is a triangular muscle which extends from the neck, down to the middle of the upper back and across the shoulder. It is one of the largest muscles in the body. It helps in stabilizing and moving the scapula. When you rotate your neck, move your arms, or even shrug your shoulders, you are able to do it because of the trapezius muscle. Overuse of the muscle can cause it to strain.
Trapezius strain can be quite annoying and uncomfortable as you will have difficulty in moving your shoulders. It also causes any upper shoulder movement very difficult as it gives out an excruciating pain whenever you try to move your head or rotate your neck. It generally happens when you repetitively put stress on the muscle.
1. Poor posture while sitting, standing or lying down
2. If you sleep in a wrong or uncomfortable position
3. If you bend over a desk for hours(This is more relevant to office workers)
4. If you have to carry heavy weights on your shoulders(This is relevant to school and college students who have to carry heavy bags every day)
5. If you overwork your trapezius during workouts
6. If you suddenly twist your neck
7. If you met with a fall or accident which injured your back.
The symptom that characterizes a trapezius strain is the searing pain in the muscles which is scattered around from the shoulders to the neck. The pain might interfere in your daily activities such as moving your arms when you push or pull. It might also cause discomfort while trying to sleep. A trapezious strain might even cause a bit of swelling in the muscle. Sometimes, due to the neck pain, you might even get headaches.
1. Resting: Rest as much as possible. Any strain or swelling can be easily cured with proper rest.
2. Ice packs: Ice packs help to reduce the swelling and get some relief from the pain.
3. Exercise: Stretching the muscle will help loosen it.
4. Blood flow stimulation therapy: After the inflammation is reduced, you should take up this therapy as an increase in the blood flow in the affected area will help cure the strain.
5. Care for the scar tissue: The scar tissue will take longer to heal than the muscle. Hence you have to follow your doctor's instruction very carefully to get a speedy recovery.
Heat treatment or thermotherapy is an effective process of healing from a sports injury. Understanding the when and how to use heat treatment is essential since it can even prolong the process of healing when not done properly.
The Process Of Healing-
There are four stages of tissue healing. Each of these has a considerable overlap between each other, even if mentioned separately.
1. The first phase is known as the most acute stage of healing or the bleeding/bruising/swelling phase. This is the short phase immediately after an injury. The extent of this phase depends on the extent of the injury and how many vascular structures are affected.
2. The second phase is called the inflammatory phase. The goal for this phase is to ensure that no further damage happens to the affected area and to stop the first phase. It is during this phase that the blood supply to the area increases causing a build-up of fluid. Heat treatment is not applicable here since it increases the blood circulation and can lengthen the healing process.
3. The third phase is called proliferation. This is the phase where the introduction of scarring and new tissue takes place. This is the post-injury phase and heat treatment greatly helps during this time, with the right kind of stressors (exercises or intervention) followed by cooling.
4. The third fourth phase is known as remodeling. It is the time when the new tissue matures and settles down. Thermotherapy in the form of Heat should be applied in this phase to bring about good extensibility in the tissues.
Injuries that are treatable through Heat Therapy Heat treatments are extremely effective in muscle, and conditions causing aches and pains, spasms and cramps. It can also be applied to ligament and joint injuries like those related to a thumb, turf toe, elbow, wrist sprains and sprained ankles. The idea behind any heat treatment is to make the tissue more extensible by warming it up. Exercises related to a range of motion should be performed immediately as the extensibility of tissues gained with heat will allow for a greater range.
How heat treatment helps in treating sports injuries?
● Heat treatment significantly increases the blood circulation and help to eradicate dead skin and other toxic bodies from the origin of the injury.
● It assists in the metabolism of the cells.
● It increases capillary permeability.
● It increases the number of nutrients and oxygen to the source of injury and speeds up the process of healing.
● Heat treatments can cut down muscle spasms.
Types of Heat Treatments Available:
For heating deep tissues, ultrasound is the safest form of treatment. It can penetrate up to 5 inches beneath the skin. This being said it needs to be administered by a physiotherapist or a PT assistant and in turn, becomes expensive. Then there is superficial heat therapy. This is convenient and readily available. They directly transfer heat from the source to the injury location. Common examples of these are a hot tub, paraffin bath and hot bags. Sometimes dry hot packs may also be used for superficial heating. They produce a steady source of heat and are run by either microwave or electricity. Caution should be taken in order to ensure that the heat does not burn the upper layer of the skin.
How Sports Physiotherapy and Heat therapy complement one another?
Heat therapy forms an integral part of Physiotherapy treatment and is used in combination with other modalities and exercise-based treatment for the following reasons:
• To improve the flexibility of your soft tissue structures.
• To reduce muscle spasms.
• To alleviate pain by releasing endorphins, powerful opiate-like chemicals which block pain transmission.
• To increase blood flow by relaxing the walls of blood vessels which in turn boost metabolism and help when stretching muscles and increasing overall flexibility.
Do you know you can suffer from a torn bicep accidentally? A bicep is a muscle which begins from your upper arm and is attached to the shoulder via bones and to the elbows by tendons. If you do the heavy lifting in the gym or somehow put excessive pressure on that area, chances are you may suffer from torn biceps.
There are two kinds of bicep tears you may encounter:
a. Complete Tears where the tendons are split into two parts resulting in tremendous pain.
b. Partial Tears result when the biceps are hurt but the tendon is not completely severed.
Among the various types of torn biceps, the muscle that is attached to the shoulder experiences the maximum number of bicep ruptures. Suddenly, the bicep tendons get detached from the bone resulting in pain and numbness. You will find a number of sportspersons suffering from this kind of torn biceps.
But why do your biceps get torn?
1. One of the reasons why you suffer torn biceps is a prolonged period of ignorance. If you have been putting continuous pressure on your shoulder, the biceps muscle can weaken over time. Overuse of the muscles can give rise to conditions of tendinitis (inflammation of the bone to muscle connecting tissue) and injuries in rotator cuff which, in future, might result in torn biceps.
2. A sudden injury like falling over your arms or hurting your shoulder can result in torn biceps.
3. Aging is another reason why you can have this complication. Added to this are unusually heavy tasks and overuse of shoulder which can result in this problem.
4. Some steroids such as Corticosteroids are directly related to the weakening of muscles and tendons.
When you suffer from torn biceps, you encounter symptoms such as:
a. Weakening of the elbow and the shoulder. You will find it troublesome to move your hand.
b. Swelling of the elbow with bruises visible on the elbow and the forearm.
c. You find trouble in twisting your forearm
d. You will experience spasms in the muscles.
e. You can also hear a snapping sound of the muscles.
What should you do if you face this problem?
a. Continuous applications of ice packs are a must. Repeat the activity 4 times a day with a duration of 20 minutes. You may need to do it for 2 or 3 days.
b. Avoid activities which put pressure on your hands and shoulders.
c. Consult a doctor immediately and get some painkillers as recommended.
d. If you have complete tears, you may need to undergo surgery. Talk to your doctor regarding that.
Four tips to help keep women away from experiencing an ACL tear.
1. Maintain the centre of strength - One would always want to strengthen the muscles, not overload them. Many athletes try to push themselves to their physical limits while working out - run one more minute, do one more rep, lift just 5 more pounds, etc - but doing so can actually overload muscles and lead to injury. Instead, I would suggest concentrating on building and maintaining strength across the board during your workouts.
Having a strong foundation and strength in the muscles that you use in your sport or activity is what will help prevent injury. For women specifically, this includes building your core muscles and hamstrings (the muscles that run up the back of your thigh) which help prevent against ACL injuries.
2. Stretch for symmetry - Having a balance between the left and right sides of your body is very important in preventing sports injuries. Studies have shown that even 15 percent side-to-side differences in flexibility and strength can increase a female athleteâs risk for injury, so itâs important for them to pay attention to any imbalances while stretching.
This imbalance can cause the bodyâs center of gravity to shift while landing from a jump and places females at risk for a knee injury. Sometimes athletes think that stretching is boring and donât pay attention while doing this, but subtle things, such as stretching the right side less than the left, can add up and create an imbalance.
3. Activate the right muscles during exercises - Exercises that build the hamstrings are very important for women participating in sports and physical activities to help prevent ACL injuries. In general, women tend to have less hamstring strength than men, which leads to an inability to control the knee if it gives out during movement.
When doing landing drills, like jumping squats, for example, women need to get down low enough in their squat to activate their hamstrings and build that strength.
4. Eating a well-balanced diet - Nutrition is very important in athletes. Generally, women donât eat enough and end up calorically deficient or dehydrated, which leads to fatigue. When athletes are tired and feel worn out, they tend to stop concentrating on their form. Thatâs when an injury is likely to happen. Instead, women should concentrate on drinking enough water and eating a well-balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables, low-fat, high content proteins and whole grains.