Rotator Cuff Tear Specialist
What is the rotator cuff?
The shoulder has a beautifully complex anatomy that is far more intricate than the simple ball-and-socket joint we often envision. One important part of that anatomy is the array of four tendons called the rotator cuff which is primarily responsible for the rotational motion of the shoulder. Healthy tendons are important for normal motion, function, and pain-free living in regards to the shoulder. Regardless of your type of job or sport, a torn rotator cuff is typically a very debilitating injury which seriously hinders your lifestyle.
How does the rotator cuff tear?
Any one of the four rotator cuff tendons can tear as a result of a single, acute trauma or as a result of degeneration and repetitive stresses. These repetitive injuries may lead to tiny tears in the soft tissue that become progressively larger. The most common of the four tendons to tear is called the Supraspinatous. This tendon may tear in isolation or in combination with some of the other tendons in the shoulder. The more tendons involved, the “larger” the tear becomes. Your surgeon may describe your tear as small, medium, large, or massive, depending on how many tendons are involved.
There are many things that may put you at more at risk of a rotator cuff injury, including:
- Trauma such as a fall
- Age and natural degeneration
- Impingement of the rotator cuff inside the shoulder
- Repetitive stress or injury
- Certain Sports that involve contact or overhead shoulder use
If your rotator cuff tear is the result of an acute injury, it’s import that you seek prompt attention as these tears can get bigger over time. Call ORTHOKnox in order to get treatment and prevent the injury from getting worse.
What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear?
Rotator cuff tears can present in a variety of ways, but most of the time the patient has pain and loss of motion. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Acute onset of pain from an injury
- Progressive dull, nagging pain in your shoulder from degeneration
- Weakness in your shoulder or upper arm
- Limited, or painful, movement of your shoulder
- Intermittent numbness or tingling in the arm, associated with above symptoms
- Loss of sleep from shoulder pain
How is a rotator cuff tear treated?
After making the diagnosis of a rotator cuff tear, your surgeon at ORTHOKnox will discuss a complete set of options on treatment. There are often choices that you will make with your surgeon, and not every treatment is appropriate for every patient. An important part of diagnosing your injury is advanced imaging such as an MRI or CAT scan. Armed with this information, your doctor can determine the next step.
Whenever possible, your doctor starts with conservative treatment such as physical therapy. The highly-trained physical therapists at ORTHOKnox provide specialized therapy customized to rehabilitate your injury.
When conservative therapy fails to relieve your pain or restore movement, surgery may be your best option. The surgeons at ORTHOKnox are fellowship-trained in shoulder surgery and use the latest techniques to repair your rotator cuff.
To fix the tear, your doctor uses arthroscopy, with tiny five-millimeter incisions, to sew and repair the soft tissue and anchor your rotator cuff to your bone.
There are many benefits to arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, including less bleeding, quicker recovery, and significantly less postoperative pain. As a result of this and other advanced techniques we employ, you can avoid narcotics in part, or sometimes altogether.
As important as the surgery in repairing a rotator cuff tear, is the work you do afterward through physical therapy to restore full use to your shoulder.
Suffering from Rotator Cuff Pain? Contact Our Orthopedic Surgeons in Knoxville & Athens, TN
To learn more about your options after a rotator cuff tear, call ORTHOKnox or use the online scheduler.