A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that surround and stabilize the joint in your shoulder. Because a rotator cuff tear is generally the result of repetitive movement, it’s a fairly common injury.
At Alpha Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, your joint health is our top priority. That’s why we like to make sure that you’re well-informed about all aspects of your joint health, particularly when it comes to common injuries like a rotator cuff tear.
What a rotator cuff tear is
Rotator cuff injuries fall into two categories. A partial tear is when one of the muscles that makes up your rotator cuff is worn or damaged. A complete tear involves damage that runs all the way through your tendon and may even cause your tendon to come completely off your shoulder bone.
Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear
The concern with rotator cuff tears is that you may not always feel the damage, making it difficult to recognize when there is a problem. In the instances when you can feel the symptoms, you may notice:
- A popping or snapping noise when moving your arm
- Weakness in the affected shoulder
- Pain when moving or raising your arm
- Discomfort or pain when lying on your arm
It’s important to make an appointment with us to get your shoulder checked out when you do start to notice these symptoms because an untreated rotator cuff injury can lead to more serious problems like a frozen shoulder or arthritis, both of which are far more difficult to treat.
Treatment for rotator cuff tears
We’ll begin your office visit by examining your shoulder to test your strength, mobility, and pain levels in the area. We may take some X-rays, ultrasounds, or MRI scans to diagnose the problem and to determine if the issue is due to a rotator cuff tear.
The majority of rotator cuff tears can be treated without surgery. Some nonsurgical treatments for your rotator cuff tear include:
- Physical therapy for your shoulder
- Cortisone injections
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Ice and rest, in less severe cases
However, if your rotator cuff tear is severe enough and you do need surgery, we may recommend a couple of surgical options.
Surgical treatments for rotator cuff tears
You do have options when it comes to rotator cuff tear surgery, and the kind of surgery that we recommend depends on the severity of your injury and a couple of different factors. Surgical options include:
Arthroscopic tendon repair
This is a procedure in which a small camera and tools are inserted through a tiny incision and used to mend the tears.
Open tendon repair
This kind of surgery works in the same way that an arthroscopic tendon repair does, but it involves a larger incision. Though the recovery time may be the same, the levels of discomfort and pain are more severe here.
This is an option that we’ll turn to if your tendon is torn beyond repair and cannot be reattached. In this case, we use a nearby tendon to replace the damaged one.
This procedure is used when your rotator cuff is so injured that a complete replacement is necessary. In this case, we replace your shoulder joint with a prosthetic, allowing for mobility.
Treat your rotator cuff injury today
If you’re experiencing shoulder pain or limited mobility, you might have a rotator cuff tear. It might be time to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors at Alpha Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. Call us or schedule an appointment right on our website for your convenience.