Rotator Cuff Tear Questions And Answers
What is a rotator cuff tear?
Rotator cuff tears happen when one or more rotator cuff tendons tear away and are no longer attached to the arm bone, it could be partial or full-thickness tears. Our shoulder, which is a ball-and-socket joint, is made up of three bones—upper arm bone (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula), and the collarbone (clavicle). The ball of upper arm bone fits into a socket, supported by our rotator cuff, a group of four muscles that come together as tendons to form a covering around the head of the upper arm and helps to lift or even rotate our arms.
What are the symptoms of rotator cuff tears?
If an individual has a rotator cuff tear, they may experience:
- Shoulder or arm weakness
- Chronic shoulder pain
- Trouble sleeping on one side
- Difficulty in reaching behind your back
- Dull aching
- Crackling when moving your shoulder
But what can cause rotator cuff tears?
Rotator cuff injuries could result from substantial injury or progressive degeneration or wear and tear of the tendon tissue and range from mild to severe. The rotator cuff injuries could fall into two categories—acute or chronic. Acute (tendinitis) or chronic (tendinopathy) is usually caused by overuse of rotator cuff muscle, leading to irritation in muscle, followed by overstretching or tearing the tendons that connect muscles to bones. It could tear wholly or partially.
Activities or sports that include repetitive overhead or upwards movement can experience rotator cuff tears. However, these tears can also happen due to an accident, heavy lifting, injury or just a fall, causing immediate and intense pain.
Age factor also plays a role. These tears are most common in people older than 60. Rotator cuff injuries are also genetic injuries, as they occur more commonly in certain families.
How are rotator cuff tears diagnosed?
To diagnose rotator cuff tear, your doctor may perform a physical exam, jot down your medical history, and even do imaging scans. The doctor may also ask about your day to day activities, range of motion, and strength to determine the possibilities of an increased risk for a degenerative condition.
How is it treated?
In 80% of cases, nonsurgical treatments improve rotator cuff injury symptoms. Your doctor may recommend:
- Applying hot or cold packs
- Physical therapy
- Injecting the affected area with cortisone to reduce inflammation
- Resting the affected arm
- Wearing a sling to isolate arm motions
- Surgery (depending on the severity)
If a rotator cuff injury causes you pain or disrupts your life, schedule an appointment with Phoenix Orthopedic Group today by phone or online.