Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries

Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries can take different forms but typically result in pain and inflammation in the shoulder. This article will walk you through different types of rotator cuff injuries and how they can be treated.

Overview of rotator cuff injuries

The rotator cuff is a band of muscles and tendons that supports the shoulder and enables it to move normally. The muscles stretch from the shoulder blade to the top of the upper arm bone (humerus) to coordinate the shoulder joint’s movement. The rotator cuff also provides necessary stability for the bones of the shoulder joint.

In some cases, the rotator cuff can become injured from overuse or an accidental injury. Rotator cuff injuries can seriously interfere with the ability to move the shoulder, often leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Common rotator cuff injuries include

  •       Tendinitis: inflammation of the tendons in the rotator cuff that attach to the bone
  •       Bursitis: inflammation of the bursa, or the fluid-filled sacs that lubricate and cushion the shoulder joint
  •       Strains and tears: stress on the rotator cuff that results in painful tearing of the muscle

Luckily, many rotator cuff injuries can be treated with prompt medical attention.

Causes of rotator cuff injuries

Rotator cuff injuries are common and can develop for a variety of reasons. Some of the most typical causes of rotator cuff injuries include

  •       Overuse: Regularly stressing the rotator cuff during physical activity can strain the rotator cuff and result in rotator cuff injuries such as inflammation or tears
  •       Injury: A sudden injury, such as those from a sports accident, fall, or car accident, can lead to rotator cuff injuries if the rotator cuff is strained or torn from the force of an impact
  •       Age-related wear-and-tear: Older adults have a higher risk of developing rotator cuff injuries as the rotator cuff can degenerate over time

Depending on the severity of the cause, rotator cuff injuries can also vary in their severity. Some injuries may primarily result in inflammation, while others may be more serious tears in the rotator cuff.

Symptoms of rotator cuff injuries

Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with rotator cuff injuries:

  •       Pain in the shoulder (especially during activities that strain the rotator cuff like lifting overhead and at night or during sleep)
  •       Tenderness
  •       Weakness in the shoulder
  •       Limited range of motion
  •       Difficulty moving the affected shoulder for normal tasks

These symptoms might be signs that your rotator cuff has been damaged and requires medical treatment to restore its functioning.

Treatment for rotator cuff injuries

Initial nonsurgical treatments for rotator cuff injuries include

  •       Rest and avoid activity that further strains the shoulder
  •       Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers
  •       Ice to relieve inflammation
  •       Physical therapy exercises that stretch and strengthen the shoulder
  •       A prescribed cortisone injection to reduce inflammation

In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to treat the injury. Common procedures include

  •       Tendon repair: This procedure can either be performed arthroscopically through a small incision or in an open surgery where a larger incision is needed to repair a torn or damaged tendon in the rotator cuff.
  •       Tendon transfer: Sometimes, the injury to the tendons of the rotator cuff is too severe to simply reattach to the bone. In this case, tissue from a neighboring tendon may be needed to repair the injury.

An orthopaedic specialist will work to develop a treatment plan based on the individual case. 

Treating rotator cuff injuries at OAR

At OAR, our team of orthopaedic specialists and surgeons are well-versed in rotator cuff injuries and prepared to work with you to find the best available treatment. We are committed to helping you get the most out of life with less pain and more freedom.

Only a doctor can tell you if you have this ailment. This is for informational purposes and should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s opinion.

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