Handsome old man is doing exercises with dumbbells and smiling, in hospital ward. Attractive nurse is helping him

Exploring Treatment for Rotator Cuff Injuries in the Elderly

Injury from falls is a major concern for seniors or for family members with elderly loved ones living alone. Injuries from falls are a leading cause of hospital visits for seniors in the US. Creating a plan to help keep yourself or your loved one healthy and safe often includes moving to a rehabilitation center, like Fair Oaks Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, where your care and recovery will help you grow stronger and more independent.

There are many injuries that are more common for seniors, some caused by falls and others not. The most frequent injuries include:

  • Hip dislocation
  • Ankle sprains
  • Burns
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Groin injuries
  • Lower back injuries
  • Head traumas

When it comes to treating senior injuries, it is important for you to know what treatment is best, what support is available during recovery and how to avoid the injuries in the first place.

What Causes Shoulder Pain in the Elderly?

Shoulder disorders are commonly underestimated causes of disability and pain in the elderly. In fact, the National Institute of Health estimates that shoulder disorders impact 21 percent of people age 65 and older. What causes shoulder pain in the elderly? The most common issues are:

  • Rotator cuff impingement or tendinitis
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Frozen shoulder

Rotator cuff ruptures, impingement, tendinitis and frozen shoulder can all be caused by soft tissue lesions. These conditions are all treatable and recovering will improve the patient’s quality of life. So, what happens if a rotator cuff injury goes untreated? Without any treatment – such as rehabilitation, surgery or rest – rotator cuff disorders may worsen. Over time, pain can increase, you may lose range of motion and the strength in your shoulder will weaken, making it more difficult to conduct daily activities.

What is the Best Treatment for Rotator Cuff Injury in the Elderly?

Once a shoulder injury is diagnosed, there are many paths to take. Rehabilitation and recovery in a place like Fair Oaks can include portions of strength training, physical therapy, simple exercises and medications. However, before rehabilitation, there may be surgical and non-surgical options to treat the injury.

What is the best treatment for rotator cuff injury in the elderly? First and foremost, a physician should be consulted as to the extent of the injury, how it occurred and what path should be taken to heal. In many cases, the first step is to ice the injured area, allow the patient to rest and to explore physical therapy. Other non-surgical treatments include the use of a sling, receiving steroid injections and taking anti-inflammatory medication. If these steps do not restore normal joint function, the patient should consult his or her physician and re-examine the options for care. If a physician determines that the muscle or tendon has truly separated from the bone, the patient may require surgery.

After a successful course of treatment is underway, the focus will shift to building strength. Rehabilitation programs, like the one at Fair Oaks, offer a variety of ways to build your strength and increase your flexibility, all while staying active, social and healthy.

A Safe and Supportive Environment

In addition to finding a safe and supportive environment for your recovery after a rotator cuff injury, it is important to understand how to prevent future injuries. Here are a few tips for seniors to prevent a rotator cuff tear:

  • Increase upper body strength
  • Improve flexibility by stretching daily
  • Exercise regularly and rest when needed
  • Maintain your mobility
  • Create a fall-safe living environment

Above all, it is important to remember that you are the most important member of your recovery team. You need to make decisions based on your personal health and recovery goals and based on what lifestyle you want. Creating an integrated care plan with the Fair Oaks team will allow you to achieve your goals while recovering and rebuilding your strength in a friendly, safe, health-focused environment. Contact us today to learn more about our rehabilitation and recovery support services.