A torn rotator cuff is a common sports injury, particularly with high-impact sports. However, repetitive overhead reaching, or a lot of heavy lifting can also cause this painful orthopaedic problem.
If you have a torn rotator cuff, or think you might, would you know what to do? Here are moredetails about the symptoms and treatments for this disabling shoulder condition.
What Is the Rotator Cuff and How Does It Get Injured?
The rotator cuff in the shoulder consists of fibrous tendons and muscles that help to power the arm and shoulder – and keep the upper arm bone (the humerus) firmly situated within the shoulder socket (glenoid cavity).
A hard impact or long-term, repetitive stress, such as throwing a football or painting a wall, can result in partial or complete tears of the rotator cuff tendons.
What Are the Symptoms of a Torn Rotator Cuff?
Arm weakness and pain–either a sharp pain or a dull ache–in the shoulder are primary symptoms of a rotator cuff injury. Restricted movement of the arm is also common. Some people with a torn rotator cuff are unable to raise their arms to comb their hair or to reach for an object on a low shelf without significant pain.
Treatment Options for a Torn Rotator Cuff
If you have symptoms of a rotator cuff tear and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better, it’s time to consult an orthopaedic specialist who treats shoulder injuries – someone like Laura A. Timmerman, MD.
A physical examination, X-rays, and other imaging tests may be needed to identify the extent of your injury and to help pinpoint the best type of treatment for you. Your orthopaedic doctor will evaluate your shoulder, checking for stiffness and swelling that may be affecting your range of motion.
Rest, Ice, Medication
Your orthopaedic specialist may recommend you ice the affected shoulder (15 minutes on and 15 minutes off), and immobilization in a sling can help minimize any pain, provide support to the shoulder joint, and help prevent further injury in the area.Rest from lifting and reaching is a must. Over-the-counter pain or anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may help, too.
Physical Therapy, Injections
Depending on the results of your imaging and other tests, your doctor may recommend physical therapy, which works especially well for partial rotator cuff tears. Cortisone injections can also provide quick and lasting relief from swelling and stiffness associated with rotator cuff tears.
Should you require surgery to repair your shoulder, your orthopaedic surgeon can employ several different techniques to restore your rotator cuff and shoulder joint to full function, including:
- Arthroscopic tendon repair using the smallest incision possible
- Open tendon repair, for large or complex rotator cuff tears
Best Rotator Cuff Treatment in Walnut Creek, CA
Dr. Laura Timmerman is the board-certified orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist to contact when you have concerns about a torn rotator cuff or other shoulder injuries or conditions.
If you’re experiencing persistent shoulder, hip, or knee pain,contact her office today for an informative evaluation of your concern as well as a discussion of all your available treatment options. Phone us at (925) 952-4080 or request an appointment now.