Rotator cuff problems: Causes, symptoms, and treatment
What is the rotator cuff?
The rotator cuff is the group of tendons in the shoulder joint providing support and enabling wider range of motion. Major injury to these tendons may result in tearing of these tendons, which is called rotator cuff tear. It is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain in middle aged adults and older individuals.
Read on to find out more about the causes and pain associated with rotator cuff injury, as well as the treatment options available to aid in recovery.
What causes rotator cuff problems?
Rotator cuff problems may occur with repeated use of arm for over-head activities, while playing sports, or during motor accidents.
What are the symptoms of rotator cuff problems?
Rotator cuff tear causes severe pain, weakness of the arm, and a crackling sensation on moving the shoulder in certain positions. There may be stiffness, swelling, loss of movements, and tenderness in the front of the shoulder.
How are rotator cuff problems diagnosed?
Rotator cuff tear is best viewed on magnetic resonance imaging. Symptomatic relief may be obtained with conservative treatments such as rest, shoulder sling, pain medications, steroidal injections and certain exercises. However, surgery is required to fix the tendon back to the shoulder bone.
Rotator cuff repair may be performed by open surgery or arthroscopic procedure. In arthroscopy procedure space for rotator cuff tendons will be increased and the cuff tear is repaired using suture anchors. These anchor sutures help in attaching the tendons to the shoulder bone.
Arthroscopy is a less invasive surgery performed using small incisions and a tiny camera which helps the surgeon guide the small instruments used to repair the tendons, usually in a same-day or outpatient procedure.
Open surgery may be a good option if the tear is large or complex or if additional reconstruction is required.
An open surgery involves making a larger incision over the shoulder and detaches the deltoid muscle to gain access and better visualisation to the torn tendon.
Bone spurs may be removed from the acromion during an open surgery.
How long does recovery take?
Recovery and rehabilitation following rotator cuff repair surgery is a slow process. Following the surgery, the arm is immobilised with a sling for the first 4-6 weeks. After this time, a physical therapist will help with passive exercises to get the strength and range of motion back, and then the final step is active exercise, where you will begin moving the muscles independently.
Initial pain following the surgery can be managed with medication such as opioids and anti-inflammatories.
Movie – Subacromial Decompression
Movie – Partially Torn Rotator Cuff
Movie – Fully Torn Rotator Cuff
Movie – Distal Clavicle Resection
For more information about Rotator Cuff Tear click on below links.