Rotator Cuff Injury
Are You Experiencing Shoulder Pain as a Result of a Sudden Slip, Twist, or Previous Injury?
The orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine experts at Westchester Sport and Spine are here to help you with your shoulder pain. With over 40 years of combined experience diagnosing shoulder pain and treating shoulder injuries, the fellowship trained orthopedic doctors and specialists at Westchester Sport and Spine provide you with the highest level of care for surgical and non-surgical shoulder procedures.
What is a Rotator Cuff?
Your shoulder joint is a flexible ball-and-socket joint that gives your arms the range of motion you need to move in every direction. The humerus, scapula, and clavicle each play an important role in the stability of this joint. Despite being a ball-and-socket joint like the hip joint, the socket of the shoulder is actually quite shallow. To make up for that, there are several other components, like tendons and fibrous cartilage, that add more stability to the shoulder joint.
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that support your arm and keep the shoulder joint stable. These muscles and tendons allow you to lift and rotate your arms smoothly and comfortably.
What is a Rotator Cuff Tear?
Since the rotator cuff plays an important role in our arm’s mobility, it can be injured to varying degrees.
Rotator cuff tears can be partial or complete. In a partial rotator cuff tear, the muscles or tendons in the rotator cuff are partially damaged. In complete rotator cuff tears, the injury is severe enough to separate the rotator cuff from the bone or completely tear through the tendons and muscle.
If you have noticed clicking, discomfort, stiffness, or weakness in your shoulder, contact the expert surgeons at Westchester Sport and Spine. Getting an accurate diagnosis early is key to maximizing your outcome. Depending on the severity of your rotator cuff tear, conservative treatments may be a great option.
Individuals who do a lot of overhead motions because of their job or a sport are more likely to experience a rotator cuff tear.
Painters, carpenters, and weight-lifters are prone to rotator cuff injuries too. Additionally, people who play tennis, baseball, golf, or basketball are more likely to experience a rotator cuff tear. Swimmers can also be at an increased risk for rotator cuff tears.
During your examination, your WSS surgeon will test your range of motion and the strength in the affected arm. You will discuss your history, the type of discomfort you feel, and what types of motion cause your shoulder to hurt. Your surgeon may also request more testing, like a MRI, X-rays, or an ultrasound. These tests will help your surgeon better understand the severity of your rotator cuff tear.
To be certain of the cause of your shoulder pain, contact the orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine doctors at Westchester Sport and Spine for specific diagnosis.
Rotator cuff tears are uncomfortable. However, the severity of the injury will determine the types of symptoms you could experience. The most common symptoms include:
- Pain when lying on your arm
- Weakness in your shoulder
- Clicking, popping, or stiffness
- Trouble raising your arm
- Pain when you move or rotate your arm
- Inability to lift objects
Rotator Cuff Injury Treatment Options
Once you are diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear, you will also learn about the severity of your injury. Depending on your injury, lifestyle, and age, your WSS surgeon will recommend an appropriate treatment option.
Whenever possible, we prefer conservative treatment options. In these cases, rest and physical therapy may be enough to recover from a rotator cuff tear. The sooner you are seen, the better the prognosis since you will be able to start treatment right away.
Here are some of the most common treatment options for rotator cuff tears:
In general, conservative treatments are preferred. This includes: rest, ice, and NSAIDs to help with discomfort.
In addition to these first-line treatments, there are other conservative options available. These include:
- Corticosteroid Injections: this is an injection into your shoulder joint to help with inflammation and pain.
- Physical Therapy: this is a guided treatment where the patient will be led through a series of safe motions and exercises. These movements are designed to rebuild strength in the joint and improve range of motion.
If you experienced a severe rotator cuff tear, or haven’t improved through conservative treatment, surgery may be an option.
Your Westchester Sport and Spine surgeon will discuss surgical options with you. That includes going over what to expect from the procedure and recovery, as well as physical therapy needs following the procedure.
Some of the most common surgical treatment options for a rotator cuff tear include:
- Arthroscopic tendon repair: this procedure is minimally invasive and allows the surgeon to repair the damaged structures within the shoulder joint using a scope and small tools.
- Open tendon repair: if you are not a candidate for an arthroscopic procedure, your surgeon may opt for an open surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon will be able to directly visualize the shoulder joint and repair damaged structures.
- Tendon transfer: in cases where the tendon of the shoulder joint is damaged beyond repair, your surgeon may opt for a tendon transfer. This involves harvesting tendon from somewhere else on the body, or from a cadaver, to replace the damaged tendon in your shoulder joint.
- Shoulder replacement or reverse shoulder replacement: if you have experienced a massive rotator cuff injury, a shoulder replacement may be the best option to help you regain your range of motion and comfort.
Recovering from a Rotator Cuff Tear
Depending on the type and severity of your rotator cuff injury, recovery may vary. For those with partial tears, rest and conservative treatments could help within just a few weeks. People who must undergo a surgical procedure will experience the typical recovery time for that procedure.
One of the most important aspects of recovering from a rotator cuff tear is giving your body time. It is easy to reinjure your rotator cuff, so it is vital to follow your surgeon’s orders and rest when needed. Physical therapy will also be critical to recovery. This is because PT will build strength in your shoulder joint to help prevent another tear from occurring.
Call us immediately
If your shoulder pain has been caused by an injury and is accompanied by any of the symptoms below, please call the orthopedic doctors and specialists at Westchester Sport and Spine immediately and then ask someone to drive you to our clinic if your shoulder pain is caused by an injury and is accompanied by:
- Your shoulder appears deformed
- Inability to use your shoulder, move or lift your arm
- Intense pain
- Sudden swelling