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Rotator cuff tears are highly common among senior citizens. In fact, they can affect up to 80 percent of seniors over the age of 80. In some cases, rotator cuff tears are asymptomatic and don’t cause many problems. But, they can also seriously impact your quality of life, especially if you’re a particularly active person. Luckily, there are lots of things seniors can do to both prevent rotator cuff tears and treat them to minimize the amount of discomfort they cause. Read on to learn more about preventing and treating this common injury.
In order to understand what a rotator cuff tear is, you first need to understand the shoulder anatomy and the muscles that make up the rotator cuff. A rotator cuff is a group of muscles that stabilize the shoulder and hold the arm bone (humerus) in the shoulder socket. The following muscles make up the rotator cuff:
These four muscles work together to keep shoulders working properly. If these muscles are damaged, you may experience a rotator cuff tear.
Common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include:
In seniors, the following activities can increase your risk of experiencing a rotator cuff tear:
Seniors are more prone to rotator cuff tears because, as you age, the muscles and tendons tend to become thinner and less resilient.
Rotator cuff tears may be common among seniors, but they’re not inevitable. You can still live an active, healthy lifestyle while taking steps to prevent tears from occurring. Some things seniors can do to keep rotator cuff tears at bay include:
One of the most important steps you can take to prevent rotator cuff tears is to make shoulder-strength and mobility top priorities. Even if you don’t play sports or exercise on a regular basis, you should still take care to strengthen the muscles of the shoulder and rotator cuff. Remember, you don’t have to be an athlete to experience a rotator cuff tear.
By performing shoulder-strengthening and stretching exercises regularly, you’ll be able to keep the muscles of the shoulder and rotator cuff strong and mobile. Remember, the easier it is for you to move the shoulder joint comfortably through a full range of motion, the better off you’ll be. Some of the best exercises you can do to strengthen the shoulder muscles and the muscles of the rotator cuff include:
Perform these exercises a few times per week, at a minimum.
It’s especially beneficial to do these exercises before you work out or play in a game or match. Taking time to warm up properly will improve blood flow to the muscles that will be working. It can also help you perform better, whether you’re lifting weights or swinging a racket. Even if you’re not concerned about a potential injury, you should at least make warming up a priority for the performance-enhancing benefits!
Finally, make sure you’re practicing proper lifting techniques, whether you’re lifting weights at the gym or lifting objects around your house. In order to protect your shoulders while lifting, keep these guidelines in mind:
In the event that you do experience a rotator cuff tear, these tips can help you reduce your pain and speed up the recovery process:
In some cases, either arthroscopic or open surgery is required to repair the rotator cuff.
If your injury doesn’t get better within a few weeks and you’re finding everyday tasks difficult, you might want to consider this option. Most people find that they feel better with less invasive treatments, though.
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