If you follow sports, you have undoubtedly heard of a player being out due to a rotator cuff tear, especially any athlete that throws a ball. However, it is not just major league pitchers that are susceptible to this injury. Anyone can tear their rotator cuff, either due to injury or just prolonged use over time. While some people heal with rest, others may need more aggressive treatment like orthopedic surgery to repair a rotator cuff tear.
The rotator cuff is actually four tendons that work in conjunction to support the humeral head that allows the arm and shoulder to rotate. When one of these tendons is torn either through an acute injury or from overuse, the victim can experience loss of function, weakness and pain in their shoulder. Often this will make it difficult to sleep, especially lying on that side, and is detrimental to anyone that needs full range of motion in their shoulder to perform their job.
For some rotator cuff injuries, rest, ice and anti-inflammatories can improve the tear and get function back on track. However with more severe damage, surgical intervention is usually needed. This can involve a procedure such as arthroscopy, where a small camera is used to locate and facilitate repair to the tears in the tendons to improve shoulder function, performed by an experienced orthopedic surgeon.
Rotator cuff tears from an injury will be noticeable right away, while degenerative tears will worsen over time. Anyone that notices weakening or pain in the shoulder when using the arm, popping noises during movement or pain in the shoulder at rest should see their doctor to have an examination for a rotator cuff tear.
Posted on behalf of:
Ortho Sport and Spine Physicians
5730 Glenridge Drive Northeast #230
Atlanta, GA 30328