According to this study, “Rotator cuff tears are the most common tendon ruptures in the body. Rotator cuff related problems are second to lower back as the most costly in many workers’ compensation systems.”
A rotator cuff tear is usually a chronic injury that develops over time, caused by repetitive overhead movements of the arm. That’s why it’s a common injury in sports like baseball, football, swimming, volleyball, and tennis. However, it can also happen as a result of a fall or sudden forceful movement of the arm outside of the normal range of motion.
These injuries can range from irritation and swelling to a partial tear or even a complete tear of the tendon. The course of treatment depends upon the severity of the injury.
Most mild rotator cuff injuries will heal on their own with appropriate rest. This might mean taking time away from your job or sport to allow the joint time to heal. Ice will help reduce pain and swelling.
Our sports-medicine trained physicians might recommend exercises to restore range of motion and strengthen the shoulder to prevent further injury. Physical therapy sessions are also an option.
For severe pain, you might receive a steroid injection. However, Mayo Clinic warns that although these “…shots are often helpful, they should be used judiciously, as they can contribute to weakening of the tendon.”
For extreme rotator cuff injuries, like a complete tear, surgery might be necessary. There are several options for rotator cuff surgery, but the simplest, least invasive is arthroscopic surgery. Mayo Clinic explains this procedure as surgeons inserting “a tiny camera (arthroscope) and tools through small incisions to reattach the torn tendon to the bone. Arthroscopic tendon repair can provide restoration of the patient’s normal anatomy with a relatively pain-free procedure.”
If you have pain or weakness in your shoulder, especially when swinging your arm or lifting it overhead, you might have a rotator cuff injury. Contact us to schedule a visit to find out for sure and to get your shoulder on the road to recovery with the proper course of treatment.