Rotator cuff tears are common in athletes who perform repetitive overhead movements, such as tennis, baseball, and basketball players, swimmers, and golfers. Falls and collisions in lacrosse, football, and hockey can also result in rotator cuff tears. If an athlete feels persistent pain or weakness in their shoulder, this could indicate a rotator cuff tear, which should be promptly treated before the injury worsens. At ORTHOKnox orthopedic clinics, a team of sports medicine specialists can perform surgery or treat a tear conservatively with physical therapy. The quicker a rotator cuff tear is treated, the sooner an athlete can recover and return to the field!
What happens when a rotator cuff tears?
Your tendon becomes unattached from the upper arm bone (humerus) in a rotator cuff tear. This can happen suddenly if you fall, receive a direct blow, or during a car collision or can happen gradually over time due to repetitive stresses such as weightlifting or reaching overhead. Difficulty reaching overhead, persistent pain, and shoulder weakness could indicate a rotator cuff tear.
How can a rotator cuff tear be repaired?
To determine if you have a rotator cuff tear, your doctor may perform an MRI or CAT scan in addition to a physical exam. Rotator cuff tears can be treated conservatively with activity modification and physical therapy, depending on the severity of your tear. Your physical therapist can help you strengthen your shoulder, increase your range of motion, and improve shoulder function with exercises, stretches, and activity modification (such as reducing overhead reaching).
To repair your rotator cuff with surgery, your doctor will suture the tendon to the bone. This can be done with arthroscopic surgery, in which your doctor uses a pencil camera (arthroscope) to help guide miniature instruments and repair your rotator cuff in about an hour.
When would my doctor recommend surgery for my rotator cuff tear?
Surgery may be the best option if 6 months of conservative treatment does not help, if your pain level is high with no relief after trying physical therapy, you have a high activity level (can return to sports or jobs without risking worsening your injury), and if more than 90% of your tendon is torn.
Shoulder surgery is usually recommended for sudden tears (due to falls or car collisions), while conservative treatment is typically best for gradual tears since there is less healthy tissue for your surgeon to use.
Where can I get treatment for my rotator cuff tear?
You can go to the ORTHOKnox orthopedic clinics in Knoxville, Tennessee, or Athens, Tennessee, to discuss your treatment options for a rotator cuff tear. See our website and blog for more details on rotator cuff tear diagnosis and treatments. With its on-site physical therapists, board-certified surgeon, and Orthopedic Urgent Care that is available without an appointment, ORTHOKnox has got you covered. For more information about how ORTHOKnox can treat your rotator cuff tear, call (865) 251-3030, or fill out our easy-to-use online appointment request form. We look forward to hearing from you!