New research: Physical therapy is best for a shoulder injury

apmr-rotator-cuff-t177292657Every year, about 200,000 Americans require surgery to repair an injury to the rotator cuff—a group of four muscles that help you lift and rotate your arm—which affects more than half of people older than 65.

But many of those surgeries may not be necessary. In new research published in Bone and Joint Journal, physical therapy was just as effective as surgery.

In the study, 173 patients 55 and older were assigned to one of three groups: physical therapy; acromioplasty (a surgical procedure to remove a small piece of a bone on the shoulder blade that’s rubbing up against a tendon) and physical therapy; or rotator cuff repair, acromioplasty and physical therapy.

In the physical therapy group, patients were told how to perform home exercises—which included strength and resistance training—for up to six months. They also had 10 physical therapy sessions in an outpatient clinic.

Patients were evaluated at three months, six months and one year, and there were similar rates of improvement. Plus, patients were equally satisfied with all three approaches to treatment. The bottom line? Nonsurgical treatment is the way to go for a rotator cuff injury.

If you have any symptoms of a shoulder injury—such as pain and/or weakness when you lift or rotate your arm—see your health care provider. The pain might be mild at first, but it may eventually persist—even when you’re taking medication to fight it.

For more information on rotator cuff injuries and how physical therapy can help contact us here.

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