Orthopedic Surgery, Shoulder Surgery

July 15, 2015

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis: Symptoms and Surgical Repair Options


If you suffer from chronic shoulder pain, you may have rotator cuff tendinitis. If left untreated, tendinitis can cause permanent strength and motion loss in your affected arm.

When nonsurgical options like medication and steroid injections are not relieving your chronic shoulder pain, surgery may be an option. If you have severe shoulder tendinitis, rotator cuff repair surgery can reduce your pain by over 80%.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
Tendinitis of the shoulder occurs in the rotator cuff, which connects muscles and tendons in your shoulders to nearby bones. Rotator cuff tendinitis occurs when these tendons becomes inflamed, generally due to repetitive motion like swinging a golf club or tennis racquet.

Contact your doctor to discuss your potential diagnosis if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Shoulder pain that prevents you from stretching your arm over your head
  • Shoulder pain that prevents you from performing everyday activities
  • Shoulder pain that disrupts your sleep
  • Clicking or popping sounds when you move your shoulder

Rotator cuff tendinitis often presents symptoms very similar to those of arthritis or a pinched nerve, so remember that only a doctor can diagnose you with this shoulder condition.

Diagnosing Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
In order to diagnose your shoulder pain, your doctor will test the strength and range of motion in your shoulder through a series of gentle manipulations. Your doctor may also order imaging tests, X-rays, an ultrasound, or an MRI to confirm the source of your shoulder pain.

The X-ray will rule out bone spurs, while the ultrasound and MRI will look for inflammation or tearing in the shoulder muscles and tendons.

Do You Need Rotator Cuff Surgery?
Rotator cuff tendinitis is often treated first with corticosteroid injections and physical therapy. When these treatments fail to resolve your chronic pain, ask your physician about your surgical options.

The goal of rotator cuff surgery is to create more space by removing the inflamed bone and soft tissue. If your surgeon determines that you need rotator cuff surgery, consult an orthopedic surgeon experienced in these two common surgical repair options:

1. Arthroscopy
Arthroscopy is an ideal rotator cuff tendinitis surgery option for people with minor tendinitis, as it is minimally invasive. The surgeon trims down inflamed tendons in your rotator cuff with very small medical instruments inserted through minor incisions in your shoulder and guided by a microscopic camera.

Arthroscopic surgery causes less inflammation and pain than traditional, open shoulder surgery. This speeds recovery time and lessens the chance of muscle atrophy.

2. Open Surgery
Open shoulder surgery is usually reserved for repairing severe rotator cuff tendinitis. Severe tendinitis surgery both makes room in the rotator cuff and replaces some of the damaged, inflamed soft tissue.

During open surgery, your surgeon will transfer or graft tissue or muscle from one area of the body to the damaged rotator cuff.

Open surgery requires a longer recovery period, but it is equally as effective as arthroscopic surgery in cases of severe damage to your rotator cuff. If the damage to your rotator cuff is so extensive that it cannot be repaired, your shoulder joint might need to be replaced.

If you would like to learn more about rotator cuff tendinitis surgery in Arkansas, contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital for an appointment with one of our experienced orthopedic surgeons at (877) 918-7020.

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