Arthroscopic shoulder surgery can be used for the treatment of rotator cuff tears. Shoulder surgery can often be avoided with less aggressive treatment such as physical therapy although sometimes surgery is necessary. Tears can occur as a result of a traumatic injury or can occur gradually without any specific recalled injury. The rotator cuff consists of the infraspinatus, supraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. The muscles work together to aid in the rotation of the arm and help to keep the head of the humerus in its socket. THey work in conjunction with the larger overlying muscles to perform all shoulder functions. Injury to the rotator cuff can impair function and usually causes pain and weakness with shoulder motion.
Surgery can most often be avoided but may be required in people whose symptoms don't improve with physical therapy or in athletes or overhead workers who require high demand use of their shoulder. For those who do have surgery, physical therapy will be needed following surgery, as there is a specific shoulder rehabilitation protocol for the progression of exercises. Pilates is a great tool for strengthening the shoulder girdle once the time has come for the strengthening portion of the exercise progression. The Swakate is my favorite rotator cuff strengthening exercise on the Pilates reformer. It incorporates external rotation combined with abduction, and internal rotation combined with adduction. You can also bias the exercise to isolate the triceps or modify it to incorporate the deltoids and even the abdominals.