Orthopedic Surgery, Shoulder Surgery

October 4, 2017

What Is a Torn Rotator Cuff, and What Can You Do About It?


We see this injury quite often among our patients—here are the basic facts.

If you experience shoulder pain, it is a good idea to see your doctor right away. What you might think is just a strain may actually be a torn rotator cuff. Without proper treatment, this condition can get worse and you may require rotator cuff repair surgery. Most rotator cuff injuries are caused by the natural degenerative process that comes as the result of aging.

The Definition of Torn Rotator Cuff
The rotator cuff is made up of a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint.  These muscles keep the head of your upper arm bone within the shallow socket of the shoulder. The tendons that keep the shoulder bones in place are separated from the bone by a fluid sac called a bursa. When one of the tendons that surrounds the humerus or the main shoulder bone is damaged, you have a torn rotator cuff.

Depending on the severity of the injury, the tendon may still be attached to the bone. Some tears begin as simple fraying that worsens overtime. Doctors put rotator cuff tears into two categories: a partial tear, where the tendon is still connected, and a full-thickness tear, where the tendon is entirely detached from the bone.

Non-Surgical Options
Most patients undergo non-surgical treatment in an attempt to heal from a rotator cuff injury. These options include anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections and physical therapy. Because a rotator cuff injury can get worse if not treated appropriately, it is essential to see a physician before attempting treatment on your own.

Surgical Options
Your shoulder surgery options will depend on the severity of your rotator cuff tear. If it’s minor, the doctor can reduce inflammation in the area using an arthroscopy technique. To repair larger tears, the surgeon will work directly on the torn tissue through a small incision in a procedure called mini-open repair. Open surgery, a “last resort” option, is for serious cases and involves grafting tissues from other part of the body to repair the shoulder.

After Rotator Cuff Surgery
Your team of specialists will work with you post-surgery to help rehabilitate your body. Depending on your individual treatment plan, your surgical specialist may recommend shoulder-conditioning exercises such as those outlined by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. They may also give you essential rotator cuff surgery recovery tips to help you get better. With the right focus on a return to wellness, you can improve your strength and mobility.

Learn More
The team of surgical specialists at physician-owned Arkansas Surgical Hospital will work with you to find the right solution to your shoulder pain. Contact us to learn more by calling (877) 918-7020 or by requesting a physician referral online today.

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