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Rotator Cuff Tear: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Rotator cuff is a group of fibrous tissues and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint. It keeps the top part of the upper arm bone held firm within the shallow socket of your shoulder. An injury to the rotator cuff can result in a dull ache in your shoulder, and often worsens when you sleep sideways.

Rotator cuff tears might be caused due to overuse or an acute injury. Your muscle bones are connected to the tendons that can overstretch (strain) or tear partially or completely. It can also strain or tear in an accident, after a fall or any other sudden injuries. Typically, these injuries can cause intense and immediate pain.

A rotator cuff tear or strain affects a person’s ability to lift and rotate their arm.

Symptoms Of Rotator Cuff Injury

Every rotator cuff injury might not cause pain. Some may be due to degenerative conditions, i.e. symptoms start to appear years after the damage of your rotator cuff. When the tear happens, one or more tendons attached to the muscles get detached. The tear might be partial or complete; it can cause pain and restricts shoulder movements.

Some of the symptoms of rotator cuff injuries include:

  • Popping sensations when you move your affected arm
  • Loss of full range of shoulder motion
  • Unable to sleep on the affected shoulder
  • Pain or tenderness when reaching overhead
  • Intense pain while lifting weights
  • Shoulder pain especially during the night
  • Progressive weakness in the arm and hand
  • Trouble reaching behind the back

Rotator Cuff Tear: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

If you are experiencing such symptoms for more than a week or lost function in your arm, consult an expert orthopaedician like Dr. Chandra Sekhar, who is an expert in treating any kind of shoulder problems.

Causes Of Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff tears or sprains can be a result of injuries to the shoulder or due to degeneration or due to wear and tear of tendon tissues in your shoulder. These cuff injuries are common in people involved in performing repetitive overhead motions in their jobs or sports. Below are a few factors which contribute to this condition :

Age: The risk of injuries to the rotator cuff of the shoulder increases with age. People older than 40 are more prone to rotator cuff tears or sprains.

Certain sports: Athletes who involved in repetitive use of their arm motions, like baseball players, archers and tennis players are at high risk of rotator cuff injuries.

Certain jobs: Specific job occupations like carpentry, house painting require repetitive motion of their arm, often overhead. These actions can damage the rotator cuff over time.

Family history: Some studies say that genetic component might be involved with rotator cuff injuries because they seem to appear more commonly in certain families.

Rotator cuff injuries range from mild to severe. Damage due to overuse of the tendons in the rotator cuff is called tendinitis. Another common injury of the rotator cuff caused due to the inflammation of the bursa is Bursitis. However, an expert shoulder specialist can treat such injuries.

Rotator Cuff Tear: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Diagnosing Of Rotator Cuff Injuries
Doctors will ask for the symptoms initially. Later during a physical test, they will check the range of motion of your shoulder by moving your arm into different positions. They will also check for any popping sounds when they move your shoulder.

In some cases, doctors might recommend imaging tests, for conformation or to find any other underlying causes, such as:

  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Treatment For Rotator Cuff Tears
In some cases, conservative treatment is effective enough to treat rotator cuff tears, but in complicated situations, medical care should be provided immediately. Even some tears may require surgical repair, tendons transfer or joint replacement.

Various treatment options for rotator cuff injuries are as below:

Most of the doctors suggest physiotherapy as first-line treatment for the minor tears. Some tailored exercises are practised targeting the location of your rotator cuff injury, which helps to restore the flexibility and strength of your shoulder.

However, physical therapy plays a significant part in the recovery process after rotator cuff surgery.

Over-the-counter medications(OTC)
NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can relieve you from pain.

Rotator Cuff Tear: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

If conservative treatments for the tears are not effective enough to reduce your pain, a steroid injection is recommended into your shoulder joint, especially if are suffering from intense pain or if it is interfering in your daily activities or exercise or while sleeping.

These injections can be temporarily helpful, and they should be used under the guidance of an expert doctor because they can weaken your tendon muscles.

Surgery For Rotator Cuff Tears

Different surgical procedures are available to treat rotator cuff injuries, which include:

  • Arthroscopic tendon repair: This is a procedure where surgeons insert an arthroscope with a tiny camera at the top to view inside of the shoulder and other tools through minor incisions made around your shoulder to reattach the torn tendon to the bone. This most trending and minimally invasive procedure to repair a torn rotator cuff.
  • Open tendon repair: An open tendon repair is traditional, and in some cases, it may be a better option. Open type repair involves making of larger incision near the rotator cuff to reattach the torn tendon to the bone. However, recovery might be more uncomfortable after open tendon repairs compared to arthroscopic procedures.
  • Tendon transfer: If the tendon is completely torn and unable to reattach to the bone, then surgeons take a nearby tendon and replaces it.
  • Shoulder replacement: Shoulder replacement surgery might be essential in substantial rotator cuff injuries. An artificial joint is placed instead and to improve its stability reverse shoulder arthroplasty is also performed.

Most people recover quickly from rotator cuff injuries with physiotherapy exercises after surgery. It helps to improve the flexibility and strength of your muscles that surround your shoulder joint. If you have had any shoulder problem, meet Dr. Chandra Sekhar, one of the best Shoulder Surgeon in Hyderabad. An early approach to a doctor can help you to get better results.

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