Rotator Cuff Tears
Left untreated, rotator cuff injuries can weaken your shoulder joint, making everyday tasks that require overhead motions much more difficult – and painful – to accomplish
Repairing rotator cuff tears, on the other hand, can relieve your pain and other symptoms, and significantly improve your shoulder function. It’s no wonder minimally invasive rotator cuff procedures are so prevalent and can successfully get you back to the activities you love, quickly and safely.
Who Is at Risk?
Rotator cuff injuries are very common. Anyone who performs a lot of overhead arm movements increases their risk of creating small tears in the tendons that connect rotator cuff muscles to bone.
Sports enthusiasts who swim or play golf, tennis, baseball, or basketball are particularly vulnerable to these injuries. Older adults are also at risk, due to the wear and tear of their tendons over time, which lose strength and flexibility with age. Rotator cuff tears can also occur from direct trauma to the shoulder during a fall or collision.
Anyone with shoulder arthritis – in which the joints of the shoulder become irritated and inflamed, causing pain and stiffness – may also develop bone spurs in the shoulder that, if situated just right, may pinch, irritate, and even cause tears in the tendons of the rotator cuff.
What Is the Rotator Cuff?
Your rotator cuff is a collection of the following four muscles and their tendons:
- Supraspinatus – responsible for abduction (e.g., lifting your arms out at the shoulder, away from your sides)
- Infraspinatus – responsible for lateral rotation (turning your upper arm outward)
- Teres minor – assists the infraspinatus with lateral rotation as well as responsible for adduction (e.g., bringing your arms down to your side from being straight out at the shoulder)
- Subscapularis – the largest of the rotator cuff muscles, responsible for medial rotation (turning your upper arm inward)
The first three muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor) are all located on the back-side of your shoulder; the subscapularis is located at the front of your shoulder.
Role of the Rotator Cuff
The rotator cuff surrounds the main ball-and-socket joint of your shoulder, also called the glenohumeral joint. The muscles of the rotator cuff connect your upper arm bone “ball” (humeral head) to your shoulder blade (scapula). This helps keep the ball from popping out of place, especially when you extend your arms away from your body. The tendons help secure muscle to bone.
Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tears
Rotator cuff tears can happen suddenly or develop slowly over time. In many cases, you can have a minor rotator cuff tear and experience no symptoms at all. When symptoms of a rotator cuff tear do occur, they may include:
- Shoulder pain:
- A dull ache that worsens when moving the arm away from the body
- Pain at night that makes it difficult to sleep on the affected side
- Pain that continues to worsen over time
- Weakness in the shoulder and upper arm
- Restricted movement
- Popping sound when you move your arm
- Numbness or tingling in the arm
Types of Rotator Cuff Injuries
Below are some of the most common types of rotator cuff injuries we treat at The Shoulder Institute at ORTHOKnox:
Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Injuries
Rotator cuff tears are usually accompanied by pain and a loss of motion. Some of the most common symptoms of rotator cuff injuries include:
- Acute onset of pain
- Progressive dull, nagging pain
- Weakness in your shoulder or upper arm
- Limited, or painful, movement of your shoulder
- Intermittent numbness or tingling in the arm, associated with above symptoms
- Loss of sleep from shoulder pain
In order to get the best treatment and prevent your rotator cuff injury from getting worse, visit the Shoulder Institute at ORTHOKnox.
Damage to your rotator cuff tendons can range from inflammation (tendonitis<116>) to deterioration (tendonosis) and partial or complete tears. The supraspinatus is the most commonly torn rotator cuff tendon.
About half of all cases of shoulder pain are believed to be due to subacromial impingement syndrome, in which rotator cuff tendons – as well as the bursa located just above it – are pinched, irritated, and inflamed within the subacromial space, the narrow passageway between the upper arm bone and the highest part of the shoulder blade (acromion). This is also known as bursitis / impingement syndrome.
These bony outgrowths can develop in the area due to chronic irritation of rotator cuff tissue by bones of the shoulder, often as the result of shoulder arthritis. Bone spurs don’t require treatment unless they are harming nearby tissue – such as impinging on rotator cuff tendons and the bursa – or causing shoulder pain or other symptoms.
Treating Rotator Cuff Tears
Conservative methods of treatment are typically tried first. This includes rest, activity modification, anti-inflammatory medication (included corticosteroid injections), and physical therapy. If these methods fail to relieve your symptoms, orthopedic shoulder surgeon Dr. David Hovis at The Shoulder Institute at ORTHOKnox may recommend arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. This minimally invasive procedure is the most common type of rotator cuff repair procedure when surgery is required. Ask Dr. Hovis what you can do to improve the outcome of any surgical treatment you undergo.
Rotator Cuff Repairs in Knoxville and Athens, TN
Rotator cuff injuries most often require treatment before you experience any significant pain relief. Call Dr. David Hovis at The Shoulder Institute at ORTHOKnox at (865) 251-3030 to discover your treatment options for rotator cuff tears.