What Is the Rotator Cuff?
Rotator cuff pain is the most common reason patients seek treatment for pain in their shoulder. It is estimated that between 16 and 34% of the American general population seek help for shoulder pain. You are not alone. If your shoulder pain happened either immediately after a fall, during a sports activity, or gradually increased over time, then treatment from an orthopedic physician can make a difference. By recommending a conservative, but effective, treatment plan to restore your shoulder and rotator cuff to its optimum health, you will be able to continue the activities you enjoy!
At Orthopedic Centers of America, our board-certified orthopedic surgeons and physicians have specialized training in rotator cuff and tendon repair. Join the thousands who have found solutions to their pain. Call 1-888-549-0835 to speak to a patient coordinator and be matched with an orthopedic specialist. It is free, easy and may be the best thing you can do for yourself!
Causes and Risks of Rotator Cuff Injuries
The shoulder is made of three bones: the upper arm, shoulder blade and the collarbone. The rotator cuff is a group of tendons that hold the shoulder in place by attaching to the upper arm bone. These tendons “cover” the ball and socket joint. Sometimes a sports injury, a sudden jerky movement or a fall can tear the rotator cuff tendon either partially or completely, depending on the severity of the accident. The small sac of fluid between the rotator cuff and bone may become inflamed or painful due to the injury and no longer provide smooth and pain-free joint movement.
There are many causes for a Rotator Cuff Injury:
- Lifting a heavy object with a jerking motion
- Falling on an outstretched arm
- Degenerative tears – If you experience pain in the dominant shoulder from the degeneration of the rotator cuff, then it is highly possible the other shoulder also contains a degenerative rotator cuff.
- Repetitive motions – routine chores, overhead repetitive motions conducted as part of your job, and sports activities are all examples that may all use repetitive motions to gradually wear out the rotator cuff.
- Lack of blood supply –the body can make repairs, but it needs an adequate blood supply to accomplish this task. Without oxygen, nutrients and the necessary repair signals, the torn rotator cuff may not heal on its own.
You are at greater risk for a rotator cuff tear if:
- You are over 40 years of age – tendons are not always able to repair themselves as fast as when you were younger.
- You make repetitive lifting or overhead movements – whether these activities are work related or not, the repetition itself causes wear and tear on the rotator cuff
- You experience a fall or a traumatic injury. You may or may not be aware of a snapping sensation during the injury that indicates the rotator cuff has been damaged.
- You experience weakness in your arm – this is due to wear and tear of the rotator cuff over a period of time. You may not feel pain, only weakness.
It is important to have a highly-trained orthopedic specialist examine your rotator cuff if you are experiencing weakness, pain or decreased range of motion in your shoulder. Without treatment, the tear may worsen and the damage may be increased.
At Orthopedic Centers of America, we have helped over 30,000 people find relief from pain. Call 1-888-549-0835 to be matched with an orthopedic specialist who can help you find relief and enjoy activities again.
Non-Surgical Treatment for Rotator Cuff Injuries
There is a wide range of non-surgical treatment options for rotator cuffs and, at Orthopedic Centers of America, our doctors will personalize the most effective conservative treatment that will minimize your recovery time and help you regain the movement and activities you love. Even though you may have an acute injury, non-surgical methods can provide the healing needed.
Our highly-trained orthopedic doctors specialize in providing a quality diagnosis to address the root of the pain. Instead of prescribing narcotics, our board-certified surgeons work with you in a compassionate manner to create a treatment plan that will alleviate the root cause of your pain so that your body can heal properly. By addressing the source of your pain, you will receive proper treatment and can look forward to getting back to a lifestyle that you enjoy.
Some of the more common treatment options include:
- Rest – Your doctor may prescribe a sling to rest your shoulder. The sling also serves as a reminder to limit your overhead reaching so that the tendons may rest and start the repair process.
- Heat and Cold Therapy – If you have had an acute injury, then cold therapy applied for 10 minutes every hour may help. Older injuries may benefit from alternating heat and cold therapy.
- Activity Changes– You may need to modify your overhead activities during the treatment phase to allow the shoulder to rest and heal.
- Anti-Inflammatory medications, such as over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, may relieve the inflammation and give you relief from pain.
- Physical Therapy – Increasing your flexibility and working to strengthen muscles may alleviate your pain and provide proper healing of the rotator cuff.
- Injections – A corticosteroid injection may relieve the inflammation and pain if other methods have not provided sufficient relief.
- Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) – PRP is an injection that may speed your recovery. PRP increases the blood supply at the point of injury and provides human growth factors that signal the body to repair torn tendons.
- Cell Therapy – This therapy is used for more advanced tears or may be combined with surgical procedures to assist in the healing process.
Surgical Treatment Options
Besides persistent shoulder pain, there are several reasons an orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery on the rotator cuff. The following are examples:
- When your symptoms last for more than six (6) months and pain is not resolved.
- When you experience weakness and a loss of function of your shoulder, surgery may be required.
- When symptoms radiate down the arm, surgery may be necessary
- Your tear was caused by a recent injury
Many rotator cuff repairs require the surgical reattachment of the tendon to the humerus, or upper arm bone. A partial tear of the tendon, however, may require a minimally-invasive trimming or smoothing procedure to be done so the tendon may heal.
At Orthopedic Centers of America, we want to help you get back on the road to recovery. Call 1-888-549-0835 to speak to a patient coordinator and be matched with an orthopedic specialist in your area. You will be glad you did!
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