Have you felt a stabbing pain in your shoulder when you stretch your arm to grab something? Or do you have trouble raising the hand? If so, you may have a rotator cuff injury. The rotator cuff is a group of tendons (the strong chords that attach your muscles to bones) and muscles placed in the upper back and shoulder. It joins the upper part of the arm to the shoulder blade and helps it move. Irritation of the tendons might be because of age-related degeneration, overuse of the shoulder or an injury. The pain makes it difficult to even perform simple routine activities like brushing your hair or putting on a t-shirt. Doctors may prescribe painkillers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In severe cases, a rotator cuff repair surgery might be needed to treat tears. In mild cases, one can opt for a combination of home remedies and stretches. Here are some of them:
Apply ice packs
Application of ice packs at the very first twinge can help to lessen inflammation, minimize swelling, and decrease pain. Using an ice pack for about 10 to 30 minutes will bring down the pain. Instead of an ice pack, you can even use a bag of frozen peas or an ice-filled plastic bag. However, don’t let your skin touch the ice directly as it could cause a cold burn. You can also use a damp towel to wrap the ice pack and then apply it to the affected area. Do this every other hour and as the pain reduces, apply ice three times a day until you’re free from pain.
Heat helps in increasing blood flow to tissues. It soothes the inflammation and speeds healing. It also increases flexibility and relaxes muscle spasms. Therefore, it can enhance your shoulder’s motion and strength.
Wall slide stretching
Stretching is another quick method to get relief from rotator cuff pain. Rotator cuff tendinitis makes the shoulder stiff, so you can improve your range of motion with the help of stretches. One of the best stretching exercises is the wall slide where you run the hand on your injured side up and down a wall.
Rest and protect your shoulders
Relaxing your shoulder and guarding it against extra stress can give you relief from rotator cuff pain. Sleeping on your back or on the side that’s not in pain or placing pillows underneath the painful shoulder will also help. Make sure that your head is raised above the shoulders while sitting, lay your feet flat on the floor, and use a pillow or towel to support your lower back. Make sure not to carry a purse or backpack on the shoulder that hurts. Avoid activities that require you to raise the arms above your shoulders for long periods like reaching things at a height. Also, try keeping things that you need, like your mobile phone, close to you so that you don’t have to reach for them and strain your shoulder. These small steps can help prevent rotator cuff pain.
Crossover arm stretch
This stretching exercise can help with rotator cuff pain. However, if you have undergone rotator cuff repair surgery, make sure that you consult your doctor before doing this. Hold your upper arm and stretch it smoothly across the chest as far as it will go. Maintain that position for about 30 seconds and then relax. Repeat this stretching exercise with the other arm. Do this cycle at least four times a day for 5 to 6 days a week. Make sure that you don’t apply pressure on your elbow.
Most of the time, people experience rotator cuff pain and discomfort due to inflammation. Turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory properties because of a component named curcumin. You can either add turmeric to your meals or have a cup of turmeric milk to get relief from rotator cuff pain. Add a teaspoon of ground turmeric to 175ml of milk, bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer for about 5 minutes for making turmeric milk. Add a pinch of pepper to boost the performance of the curcumin in the turmeric.
Doorway stretching is an exercise recommended for getting relief from rotator cuff pain. Warm up the muscles by standing in an open doorway and reach your arms out to the side. Clutch the sides of the doorway so that each hand is at or below the shoulder height and lean forward through the doorway till you feel a moderate stretch. Make sure that you keep your back straight while leaning and also shift your weight onto your toes. You should feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders. Make sure that you don’t overstretch as it may lead to negative results.
The rotator cuff keeps your arm in its place. Therefore, it is a vital part of the body. Rotator cuff pain can be extremely debilitating. Consult a healthcare practitioner if the pain occurs even after trying these pain relief methods.
If none of these treatment options work, you can consult a doctor and opt for a rotator cuff repair surgery. There are three types of rotator cuff surgeries, namely, open repair, mini-open repair, and arthroscopic repair.