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Rotator Cuff Tears - Yes, a return to golf (and other sports) is possible.

Did you know? In the US alone, 5.7 million people over the age of 60 will experience some degree of rotator cuff tear each year. And, for those experiencing shoulder pain, anywhere from 65-70% of the time, it involves one of the four (4) rotator cuff tendons.1

For golfers, studies show approximately 2/3 of players will experience some kind of injury, of which the shoulder accounts for 4-18.6%. While this can range from mild pain and tendinitis, rotator cuff tears are not uncommon. Today, golf is year-round, even here in South Jersey, with the growing number of inside simulators allowing players to practice even with a foot of snow outside. The chance of injury due to overuse and poor technique continues to rise. As such, this month, we turn our focus to the rotator cuff – the who, what and where. 

What is a rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff is a group of four (4) muscles – supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis – each of which has varying jobs, but together, they are integral to performing many of the most routine daily actions. Reaching overhead, stretching behind you and even simply extending an arm away from the body, use the rotator cuff in some way. Beyond the every day, these muscles are also very important in sports, playing a key role in tennis serves and swings, the golf swing, and overhead throwing in baseball or softball. 

Regardless of sport or activity, the most common rotator cuff injuries that occur in young adults are either traumatic or due to overuse while doing activities such as tennis, golf, baseball or repetitive chores. 

Who is at risk?

As with many conditions, aging can increase the likelihood of a rotator cuff tear, as can other factors, including family history and posture. Studies also have shown that women are more prone to such injuries and if you need another reason to quit smoking, here is one for the list.2

How are rotator cuff tears treated?

Both surgical and non-surgical treatments are widely accepted as optimal for rotator cuff tears. Yet, as with any injury, the best option is specific to the case and will depend on the patient’s age, extent of the tear, tissue quality, and current level of functionality. While either option demonstrates optimum results within 12 months, non-surgical treatment will begin to respond positively in 6 to 12 weeks. 


Where can I get help? 

Here at Davis PTSR, we have the knowledge and experience, along with a wide range of equipment, to treat any rotator cuff injury or pathology. Since such tears and pathologies can have many causes (age, overuse, traumatic injury, etc.), we have an extensive evaluation process and develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient.

In general, rotator cuff rehabilitation begins with a passive range of motion to gently stretch and regain the full range of the affected shoulder. Following that, we begin utilizing active assisted and active motion to develop good shoulder dynamics and posture. Lastly, Team Davis will incorporate strengthening exercises and equipment, such as Blood Flow Restriction Therapy and Proteus motion, to have patients back performing the activities they enjoy most. 


Back to the greens… The good news for golfers – a rotator cuff tear is not a life sentence and returning to golf is not only possible. More players than not can now return to the game they love.


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