Rotator Cuff Tear
Rotator cuff tear is common and increase with age. These injuries may occur earlier in people who have jobs that require repeatedly performing overhead motions, such as painters and carpenters.
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of the upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder. A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder that worsens at night.
Physical therapy exercises can improve flexibility and strength of the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. For many people with rotator cuff problems, these exercises are all that’s needed to manage their symptoms.
Sometimes, rotator cuff tears may occur from a single injury. In those circumstances, people should seek medical advice quickly because they might need surgery.
The pain associated with a rotator cuff injury may:
- Be described as a dull ache deep in the shoulder
- Disturb sleep
- Make it difficult to comb your hair or reach behind your back
- Be accompanied by arm weakness
Some rotator cuff injuries don’t cause pain.
Causes of Rotator Cuff Tear
Rotator cuff injuries are most often caused by progressive wear and tear of the tendon tissue over time. Repetitive overhead activity or prolonged bouts of heavy lifting can irritate or damage the tendon. The rotator cuff can also be injured in a single incident during falls or accidents.
Diagnosis of Rotator Cuff Tear
During the physical exam, Doctor will press on different parts of the affected shoulder and move your arm into different positions. They’ll also test the strength of the muscles around your shoulder and in your arms.
Imaging tests may include:
- X-rays. Although a rotator cuff tear won’t show up on an X-ray, this test can visualize bone spurs or other potential causes for your pain — such as arthritis.
- Ultrasound. This type of test uses sound waves to produce images of structures within your body, particularly soft tissues such as muscles and tendons. It allows a provider to assess the structures of your shoulder during movement. It also allows a quick comparison between the affected shoulder and the healthy shoulder.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technology uses radio waves and a strong magnet. The images obtained display all structures of the shoulder in great detail.
Treatment of Rotator Cuff Tear
Conservative treatments — such as rest, ice and physical therapy — sometimes are all that’s needed to recover from a rotator cuff injury. If your injury is severe, you might need surgery.
Physical therapy is usually one of the first treatments suggested. Exercises tailored to the specific location of your rotator cuff injury can help restore flexibility and strength to your shoulder. Physical therapy is also an important part of the recovery process after rotator cuff surgery.
A steroid injection into the shoulder joint might be helpful, especially if the pain is interfering with sleep, daily activities or physical therapy. While such shots often provide temporarily relief, they also can weaken the tendon and reduce the success of future shoulder surgery.
Orthopedic Surgeon at Shreya Hospital have expertise in fixing rotator cuff tears. Many different types of surgeries are available for rotator cuff injuries, including:
- Arthroscopic tendon repair. In this procedure, surgeons insert a tiny camera (arthroscope) and tools through small incisions to reattach the torn tendon to the bone.
- Open tendon repair. In some situations, an open tendon repair may be a better option. In these types of surgeries, your surgeon works through a larger incision to reattach the damaged tendon to the bone.
- Tendon transfer. If the torn tendon is too damaged to be reattached to the arm bone, surgeons may decide to use a nearby tendon as a replacement.
- Shoulder replacement. Massive rotator cuff injuries may require shoulder replacement surgery. To improve the artificial joint’s stability, an innovative procedure (reverse shoulder arthroplasty) installs the ball part of the artificial joint onto the shoulder blade and the socket part onto the arm bone.