Rotator Cuff Repair and Treatments: All You Need to Know


April 6, 2021

A rotator cuff tear is a common problem that affects many adults. It is detrimental as it results in pain and disability. As a matter of fact, a rotator cuff problem weakens your shoulder, which means that you won’t carry out your daily activities due to the pain resulting from the problem. Great research details that approximately 2 million people in America suffer from a rotator cuff problem. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the symptoms and treatment options available for this condition.

Here is a brief elucidation of all you need to know about rotator cuff repair and treatments.

The Anatomy of the Rotator Cuff

The humerus, scapula and collar bone are the three prominent bones that make up your shoulder. Also, the shoulder is a ball and socket joint whereby the head of the humerus fits into the socket of your shoulder blade. The rotator cuff comes into play as the part which keeps your arm in your shoulder socket. It is imperative in that it helps attach the humerus into the shoulder socket, thus help the arm’s movement.

A lubricating sac is also present between the rotator cuff and the bone on top of your shoulder. The purpose of this sac is to help the rotator cuff glide properly. Therefore, once the rotator cuff is damaged, you may end up experiencing immense pain.

What are the Risk Factors?

Research suggests that people who are above 40 years are at greater risk of suffering from a rotator cuff tear which mainly occurs due to constant wear and tear. Besides, the most vulnerable group of people are athletes, particularly tennis players. Also, painters and Carpenters are at a greater risk of developing tears, resulting in rotator cuff problems.

What are the Symptoms?

Some of the common symptoms that arise as a result of rotator cuff problems include:

  • Pain when lifting or lowering your arm.
  • You may experience pain at night due to shoulder movements when sleeping.
  • Weakness, especially when you are lifting an object or rotating your arm.
  • Stiffness
  • You may end up experiencing paralysis on the affected arm.
  • Crackling sensation.

These symptoms may make routine activities more challenging to undertake. Therefore, you might need to seek assistance from a physician for treatment.

Rotator Cuff Treatment Options

Treating a rotator cuff injury is one of the first steps to recovery. It would be an imperative undertaking if you sought a doctor’s assistance once you notice the symptoms related to rotator cuff injury. Essentially, this helps prevent further damage to the rotator cuff.

The treatment options available include:

1. Nonsurgical Treatment

Research suggests that nonsurgical treatment improves shoulder functionality, and also it helps relieve pain in about 80% of the patients who proceed to use this treatment option. The nonsurgical treatment options include:

Physical therapy: This treatment option envisions strengthening your muscles and your shoulders. This is through constant physical exercises that aim at improving flexibility and, as a result, relieve pain and prevent further injury.

Rest: Reducing risk factors through rest is an imperative activity to help you limit overhead activities that may lead to a rotator cuff injury. Therefore, your doctor may suggest rest to help you minimize risk and also prevent further injury.

Medication: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen may prove helpful, especially in reducing swelling or even relieving pain.

Steroid injection: Your doctor may suggest an injection of local anesthetic. This mainly occurs where physical therapy and medications have not been effective in relieving your pain.

Using nonsurgical treatment options comes with multiple advantages, such as reducing the risk of infections, permanent stiffness or even anesthesia complications. However, disadvantages may arise where this treatment option doesn’t fully counter the spread of the condition. Therefore, the size of the rotator cuff injury may increase over time.

2. Surgical Treatment

You may undergo surgery in cases where there is continuous pain despite you having undergone nonsurgical treatment options. The purpose of surgery is to reattach the tendon to the head of the humerus. However, there are other few options to repair rotator cuff injury for which your physician may recommend depending on your needs.

Most importantly, some of the signs that may necessitate undergoing a surgical procedure include:

  • If you end up experiencing significant weakness, which is accompanied by a loss of shoulder function.
  • If an acute injury caused your tear more recently
  • If the symptoms underscored above last longer than expected, approximately 6 to 12 months

All of these indicate that you need to undertake effective measures to reduce further damage.

Pain management is one of the steps to full recovery. At Southeast Pain &Spine Care, we understand that pain can affect your lifestyle. Don’t hesitate to contact us to help in pain management.