Laser therapy for rotator cuff injuries may be the right treatment option when you’re looking for a choice that’s non-invasive and has little-to-no side effects
Treating rotator cuff injuries generally carries a goal of restoring function and providing pain relief to the group of muscles and tendons that wrap around the shoulder joint, as even a small tear can be uncomfortable and potentially disabling. Patients may find it’s a lot more difficult to go about their daily lives and responsibilities until their rotator cuff tissues are fully healed.
For the chiropractor, choosing the right approach to patient treatment can help get patients back to their activities quickly. Laser treatments can be used in conjunction with traditional chiropractic care to potentially improve patient comfort and capability.
Rotator cuff injuries
Generally, specific movements will damage rotator cuff tissue. When these movements are repeated, damage can build upon itself and patients may begin to show symptoms of more severe harm.
The resulting damage may be painful enough to interfere with sleep, daily hygiene, work activities and other important functions. Over time, the condition may progressively worsen with the rotator cuff unable to fully heal until the right intervention is found and treatment begins.
Here are three types of rotator cuff injuries you may see in patients:
- Rotator cuff tearing: Patients with rotator cuff tears may need surgery, physical therapy, or even joint replacement. As such, tears are often fairly serious and may require immediate care.
- Bursitis: Surrounding the rotator cuff tendons is a pocket of fluid. Sometimes, inflammation spreads to this liquid and creates a painful condition. No matter what direction the patient moves their shoulder, it’ll probably hurt.
- Tendonitis: In this case, inflammation is limited to just one tendon. Patients may only notice pain after specific movements.
Patients may present at your office with pain and discomfort after trying home remedies or, in some cases, after unsuccessfully trying to let it heal on its own. If they have to compensate for an earlier injury, they may end up making their rotator cuff damage worse before you have an opportunity to evaluate and treat them.
Helping patients with rotator cuff damage
When you have a conversation with your patient, find out how you can help avoid future rotator cuff damage and provide them with alternatives. Strengthening the back of the shoulder muscles can reduce the likelihood of future issues, as can proper stretching technique.
Chiropractic care and laser treatments can help with healing and recovery.
Laser treatment options
Cold laser therapy may help tissue regenerate and can be used alongside chiropractic care. Since these devices use gentle light instead of heat or high-energy radiation, cold laser may be the right treatment option when you’re looking for a choice that’s non-invasive and has little-to-no side effects.
In conjunction with chiropractic care, using cold laser therapy may encourage restoration on a cellular level in rotator cuff tissues. Cold laser treatments may act on the mitochondria within cells, possibly causing cells to repair themselves more efficiently. For muscle tissue, this can mean your patients regain use of their shoulders sooner and have reduced pain and discomfort.
You can obtain a cold laser therapy device and provide treatment in-office or you can recommend a device your patients can purchase and use at home. However you choose to administer cold laser therapy, be sure to research different cold laser therapy devices and choose the right one for your patients — there are a lot of options available on the market. Choose one that’s acceptable for medical use where you practice. If your patient will be using the device at home, be sure to show your patient how it works and supervise their first use.
- Harvard Health Publishing. Rotator Cuff Injury: What is it?. Harvard Medical School. Published: Dec 2018. Accessed: Nov 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/rotator-cuff-injury-a-to-z
- Mayo Clinic. Rotator cuff injury. Mayo Clinic Patient Care and Health Information. Accessed: Nov 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rotator-cuff-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20350225
- Awotidebe, A., Inglis-Jassiem, G., et. al. Low-level laser therapy and exercise for patients with shoulder disorders in physiotherapy practice (a systematic review protocol). Systematic Reviews. Published: Apr 2015. Accessed: Nov 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4423144/#