A rotator cuff tear is a common injury, usually diagnosed among people who play sports such as tennis or basketball. It is also diagnosed among people who have physically strenuous jobs. The condition occurs as a result of wear and tear and also due to repetitive motions. In some cases, even a sudden fall or an injury can cause the development of a rotator cuff tear.
What Is a Rotator Cuff?
The rotator cuff is made of 4 muscles and tendons that provides the shoulder joints stability. This, in turn, makes it easier to lift things. Now, when it comes to rotator cuff tears, you generally have two types.
First, we have the partial tear, which is when a tendon that protects the shoulder becomes damaged. The other is a complete tear. This one goes through the complete tendon and sometimes, even pulls off the tendon from the bone.
Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Tear
It isn’t possible to always be aware of a torn rotator cuff. This is why you need to look for specific symptoms. One such symptom is the difficulty in raising your arm. You might also experience some pain in your arms, especially when you move it in certain ways or end up sleeping on it.
Weakness in the shoulder is another symptom to watch out for. In addition, you might find it difficult to lift things and may hear popping/clicking sounds when you move your arm.
If you observe any of these, make sure you get in touch with your doctor. If you ignore the signs of a possible rotator cuff tear, the problem can get much worse. You may end up with advanced conditions, such as a frozen shoulder or arthritis.
To determine whether or not you have a rotator cuff tear, your doctor will go through your medical history, especially in the context of injuries. He will then physically examine your shoulder. Your range of motion will be checked as well, followed by a test of your muscle strength.
After that, he will check to see which movements specifically hurt you. Other than these, your doctor will rely on certain tests in order to arrive at an accurate conclusion. This includes carrying out an MRI, an X-ray, and an Ultrasound. The MRI uses radio waves and magnets to produce detailed images of your affected shoulder.
An X-ray will help determine if the humeral bone is pushing into the rotator cuff space. An Ultrasound allows the surgeon to look at muscles and soft tissues in the shoulder.
In general, your doctor will suggest a blend of anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, and physical therapy. This will help minimize swelling and pain.
If the above-mentioned approach does not work, the only other option is surgery. We have three kinds of procedures to fix rotator cuff tears. There is the arthroscopic method, the mini-open method, and the open method. Your doctor can advise you on the best options for your specific needs during a consultation.
Contact Our Office
To learn more about the treatment options available to treat your rotator cuff tear, contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kevin James today!