416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday - Friday 7am - 8pm

416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-8pm

Osteopathic Treatment Of Rotator Cuff Shoulder Injuries

Published by Better Health Osteopathy on 5 March 2023, Shoulder Pain

Managing a rotator cuff injury can be challenging, but with the right approach and support, it is possible to make a full recovery. Rest is key when dealing with rotator cuff injuries, so ensuring that you get plenty of rest and take time off from activities that may aggravate your injury is essential. Osteopathic treatment can also be very beneficial, as it aligns the body and reduces tension around the rotator cuff and other parts of the spine. In addition, rehabilitation exercises are important for strengthening the shoulder muscles, improving the range of motion and flexibility, and reducing pain. With the right treatment plan and dedication to rehabilitation, you can make a full recovery from your rotator cuff injury.

A large proportion of our patients at Better Health Osteopathy present with shoulder pain. Shoulder pain can result from bursitis, frozen shoulder, trauma, or a strain or tear to the shoulder’s rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff is an important structure of four muscles and tendons located within the shoulder joint, providing strength and stability to the shoulders. These muscles, at times, can be susceptible to injury due to overstretching or repetitive strain and load on the muscles.

When it comes to osteopathic treatment for rotator cuff injuries, osteopathic treatment can help reduce pain and facilitate healing. Osteopaths use joint manipulation, soft tissue massage, and stretching techniques to alleviate discomfort and promote healing. We also work with patients to identify any underlying issues or patterns of movement contributing to the injury. By treating the body as a whole, our Osteopaths will work to restore balance and health to the muscles, tendons, and other structures of the shoulder joint. Our Osteopaths will also advise on posture, ergonomics, activities to avoid or modify, and exercises to help strengthen the shoulder muscles.

Anatomy of The Rotator Cuff Muscles

The shoulder’s rotator cuff muscles comprise four different muscles: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. These muscles work together to form a network of tendons that provide support and stability for the shoulder joint and allow it to move in multiple directions. When these muscles are injured, it can cause pain and limit the range of motion.

Symptoms Of A Rotator Cuff injury

The symptoms of a rotator cuff injury can vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury. Common symptoms include pain when lifting or lowering your arm, difficulty raising your arm overhead, weakness in your shoulder muscles, and tenderness in the affected area. It can also be difficult to sleep on your shoulder at night time.

Causes of Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries can be caused by several factors, such as repetitive movement like throwing or lifting heavy objects, acute trauma to the area, or aging. These injuries can also be caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis or bursitis of the shoulder joint. Commonly poor technique while weight lifting in the gym can also lead to rotator cuff injuries.

Rotator cuff tears can range from a small partial tear to a large rupture and often cause pain in the shoulder or upper arm. In fact, 20-30% of adults above 60 will have at least one full-thickness rotator cuff tear, with the supraspinatus muscle being the most commonly torn.

Treatments For Rotator Cuff Injuries

The most common treatment for rotator cuff injuries is rest, followed by physical therapy, such as osteopathic treatment and rehabilitation. Other treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medications, hot/cold compresses, and corticosteroid injections, can reduce inflammation and pain. Surgery may also be necessary in some rare cases.

If you have injured your shoulder, it is always wise to get it checked by your Osteopath so that you can speed up your healing and also prevent possible progression to a frozen shoulder, which is a very complex condition that can last proximately 18 months, and is very common in middle-aged patients from 40 years old and upwards.

Osteopathic Treatment of Rotator Cuff Injuries

Osteopathy uses gentle manipulation to treat musculoskeletal issues such as rotator cuff injuries. Osteopaths use their hands to diagnose and treat the underlying causes of pain, restore mobility, reduce inflammation and improve blood flow in the affected area. This treatment can help relieve pain associated with rotator cuff injury. Rehabilitation exercises will then be prescribed to help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder. This is a very effective way to manage your injury and get you back to health quickly.

How Long Does It Take For A Rotator Cuff Injury To Heal?

The healing time for a rotator cuff injury will vary depending on the severity of the damage and the treatment sought. Generally speaking, minor injuries may take up to six weeks to heal, while more severe injuries can take up to three months or longer.

5 Tips for Managing Your Injury at Home6 Tips for Managing growing pains

If you suffer from a rotator cuff injury, the following five tips can help you better manage your injury.

  1. Rest: Get plenty of rest and avoid activities involving the affected area to allow the injury time to heal.
  2. Ice: Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 20 minutes daily.
  3. Compress: Wrap the shoulder in a light bandage or compression sleeve to support and reduce pain.
  4. Stretch: Gently stretch the muscles around the shoulder to help improve mobility and reduce pain.
  5. Strengthening exercises: Gradually increase your activity level with exercises that target weakened muscles and ligaments.

Rehabilitation Of Your Rotator Cuff Injury

Rehabbing your rotator cuff injury is an important step in quickly getting you back to total health. Once your Osteopath has managed to help you with your pain and improved the range of movement in your shoulder, you will begin a tailor-made rehabilitation plan focusing on strengthening the weakened muscles and ligaments in your shoulder.

When rehabbing a rotator cuff injury, it is important that you slowly and gradually increase the load on your shoulder and slowly build up the intensity of your rehabilitation exercises. This will help ensure you are not overworking your shoulder, which can cause further injury or pain.

To prevent future tears or strains, practise proper form and technique when engaging in any work activity or sport that uses the shoulders and ensure to maintain strength and flexibility within the shoulder muscles.  Your Osteopath will guide you clearly through this process.


Rotator cuff injuries can be painful and debilitating, but with the proper treatment and rehabilitation programme, they can be managed effectively, and you can get back to total health quickly. Rest, osteopathic treatment, and rehabilitation exercises are all effective ways of managing rotator cuff injuries. Additionally, following the five simple tips above for caring for your injury at home, can help you manage your condition more effectively.

If you are looking for an Osteopath in Christchurch, the Osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy will happily provide you with an accurate diagnosis and exceptional care for your injury, so that you can get back to everyday activities as quickly as possible.

If you’re suffering from a shoulder injury, it may be time to book with one of our experienced Osteopaths. Contact the team at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.

Better Health Osteopathy

Lorraine Herity is the Clinic Director of Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch, New Zealand. She previously worked in Osteopathic clinics in London and Ireland, before moving to New Zealand. Lorraine trained at the British School of Osteopathy in London, where she gained her Master of Osteopathy (M.Ost). Lorraine is a dedicated and passionate Osteopath. Her main aim is to help her patients regain their health and to return her patients back to their everyday activities, in as quick a time as possible. Lorraine is also a clinic tutor on the Osteopathic Course in Ara and relishes the opportunity to teach the next generation of osteopaths.