ROTATOR CUFF INJURIES
What Are Rotator Cuff Injuries?
Rotator cuff tears make up a common source of shoulder pain and injuries among adults. Nearly 2 million Americans visit their doctors due to a rotator cuff injury every year.
A torn rotator cuff will cause the shoulder muscles to weaken. This means that patients may have difficulties performing routine daily activities that involve lifting the arms, such as combing hair or putting on clothes.
The rotator cuff holds the arm in the shoulder socket. The rotator cuff consists of four different muscles that come together and attach their tendons to form a capsule covering the head of the humerus, or arm bone. The rotator cuff holds the humerus to the shoulder blade and assists in lifting and rotating the arm.
Indications Of Rotator Cuff Injuries
The symptoms of a rotator cuff injury can vary depending on the severity and location of the injury, but common signs and symptoms include:
- Shoulder Pain: Persistent pain in the shoulder, which may worsen with specific movements, such as lifting the arm or reaching overhead. The pain may be dull, aching, or sharp.
- Weakness: Weakness in the shoulder and arm, making it difficult to perform everyday activities that require lifting or reaching.
- Limited Range of Motion: Decreased ability to move the shoulder through its full range of motion, particularly with activities like reaching behind the back or reaching overhead.
- Shoulder Instability: Some individuals may experience a sense of shoulder instability or a feeling of the shoulder “slipping” or “catching.”
- Night Pain: Pain and discomfort that interfere with sleep, particularly when lying on the affected shoulder.
- Clicking or Popping Sensation: Some individuals may hear or feel clicking, popping, or grinding sensations within the shoulder joint during certain movements.
Types Of Rotator Cuff Injuries
There are different types of rotator cuff injuries, including:
- Rotator Cuff Tendonitis: Inflammation or irritation of the tendons of the rotator cuff, often caused by repetitive overhead movements.
- Rotator Cuff Tears: Partial or complete tears in one or more of the rotator cuff tendons. Tears can range in severity from small and partial tears to larger and complete tears.
- Rotator Cuff Impingement: Compression of the rotator cuff tendons and bursa (fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction) between the humerus (upper arm bone) and the acromion (part of the shoulder blade). Impingement can lead to inflammation and potential tears.
Treatments For Rotator Cuff Injuries
Treatment for rotator cuff injuries depends on various factors, including the severity of the injury, the individual’s activity level, and overall health. Conservative treatment options may include:
- Rest and Activity Modification: Avoiding or modifying activities that exacerbate symptoms and allowing time for the injury to heal.
- Physical Therapy: Specific exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, improve shoulder stability, and restore range of motion. Physical therapy may also include modalities such as heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation.
- Pain Management: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), pain-relieving medications, or corticosteroid injections may be used to manage pain and reduce inflammation.
- Surgical Intervention: For severe or persistent cases, or for larger tears that do not respond to conservative treatment, surgical repair may be necessary. Surgery can involve repairing the torn tendon(s) or, in some cases, removing or smoothing out damaged tissue.
It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, such as an orthopedic specialist or a sports medicine physician, for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan based on the specific details of your condition. They will guide you through the appropriate course of action to relieve symptoms, restore shoulder function, and prevent further injury.