Physiotherapy And Supraspinatus Tear Rehabilitation

Physiotherapy And Supraspinatus Tear Rehabilitation

Physiotherapy Is A Key Component In Supraspinatus Tear Rehabilitation

Following the diagnosis of a supraspinatus tear as being the primary cause of an individuals symptoms, a supraspinatus tear rehabilitation program can be implemented.  Any treatment approach will obviously depend on the severity and stage of injury. The use of physiotherapy treatment in supraspinatus tear rehabilitation may be applied as part of a conservative treatment approach in an attempt to avoid more invasive treatment options or, as part of post surgical rehab protocol.

Conservative Management For Supraspinatus Tears

Receiving a diagnosis that the supraspinatus has a tear is not necessarily a sentence for surgery. Supraspinatus tears are frequently managed conservatively (non-operative management) in a number of situations and depends on the severity of the tear, individual circumstances such as age and functional requirements, a few situations where a tear may not indicate a need for surgery include:

  • Patients without a full-thickness tear, or small full-thickness tears.
  • Chronic tears in the older population.
  • Irreparable tears, with irreversible changes.

Any physiotherapy management approach implemented depends on the extent of the tear and individual circumstances. The goals of treatment are typically to improve pain, motion, strength and function as appropriate depending on individual circumstances there may be a ceiling on the overall outcome of any rehab program.
Remembering that the function of supraspinatus along with the other rotator cuff muscles is to help stabilise the shoulder keeping the head of the humerus firmly pressed against the glenoid fossa under load and throughout movement. Therefore any rehabilitation approach must look at both the independent actions of the muscle in generating movement and its function in the shoulder as a whole as part of a stabilisation unit.

Surgical Management And Post Surgical Supraspinatus Tear Rehabilitation

Indications for surgical management of supraspinatus tears are generally if they are either deemed inappropriate for conservative management due to factors; such as:

  • being larger symptomatic full-thickness tears in younger patients
  • or have failed previous conservative management

In these situations a rotator cuff repair may be performed and post surgically your orthopaedic surgeon will most likely issue you with a strict rehab protocol to be carried out in consultation with your physiotherapist. Again at this stage the focus will be addressing pain, range of motion, weakness and functional restoration as guided by the stages of the protocol. This can be quite a drawn out process with extended periods with relative immobilization in a sling but in my opinion when deemed necessary and the surgery is successful outcomes following a post surgical supraspinatus tear rehab program are typically very satisfactory.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance regarding Physiotherapy And Supraspinatus Tear Rehabilitation should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist or physiotherapist.