The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint that work together to stabilize the joint and keep the upper head of the humerus in its socket. A rotator cuff injury happens when one or more of the components that make up the rotator cuff get damaged, making the joint unstable.
People who constantly perform overhead motions like painters, carpenters, and athletes are prone to rotator cuff injuries. It is also possible to develop a rotator cuff injury in a sudden accident. When a rotator cuff injury happens, you will feel a dull ache in the shoulder. It will be difficult to do daily tasks, such as brushing your hair. You may be unable to sleep on the affected shoulder and may also feel weakness in the arm that’s affected.
The process of repairing a rotator cuff injury begins with diagnosis. Your doctor will perform a physical examination of your shoulder and ask about your symptoms and what may have caused the issue. Your doctor may recommend imaging tests such as an ultrasound, MRI, or X-ray to take a look inside your shoulder. This can confirm if a rotator cuff injury exists and the extent of it.
Repairing the Rotator Cuff
Once diagnosed, you will work with your doctor to find the right treatments for your injury. If your rotator cuff injury is minor, your doctor will recommend the following:
- Rest – Taking it easy by not lifting heavy objects and refraining from activities that require overhead movements can help give your rotator cuff the rest it needs to heal.
- Ice and Heat Therapy – Applying ice or heat for 15 to 20 minute intervals can help reduce inflammation, tightness, and soreness in the shoulder.
If these treatments do not work for your rotator cuff injury, there are some non-invasive and minimally-invasive techniques that your doctor will likely recommend. These treatment methods are effective for a lot of people. They include:
- Pain Relievers – Pain relievers can temporarily help you feel better by reducing the pain symptoms you feel. Your doctor will first recommend over the counter medications, and if those aren’t effective, he or she may recommend prescription medicine.
- Injections – Steroid injections in the shoulder can help reduce pain symptoms that may be interfering with your daily activities. This treatment is effective because the injection delivers the steroid directly to the affected area.
- Physical Therapy – Physical therapy can increase flexibility and strengthen the shoulder. This helps not only control symptoms but also helps in the recovery process. Physical therapy is recommended for patients who choose non-invasive treatments as well as those who choose to get rotator cuff surgery.
Surgical Methods for Repairing the Rotator Cuff
If your rotator cuff is severely damaged, your doctor may recommend surgery as a treatment option. There are a few types of surgery that can be performed to fix a rotator cuff injury. They include:
- Arthroscopic Tendon Repair – This type of surgery involves using a very small camera (arthroscope) and tiny tools to repair the shoulder through small incisions. This type of procedure leads to less scarring, less pain, faster recovery, and shorter hospital stays.
- Tendon Transfer – Tendon transfer procedures are recommended when the tendon in question is far too damaged to be reattached. A nearby tendon is used as a replacement in such cases.
- Shoulder Joint Replacement – If your rotator cuff injury is very severe, you may need a joint replacement procedure to fix the issue. This involves installing artificial pieces into the shoulder joint to restore function in the area.
Rotator Cuff Injury Treatment in Sarasota or Bradenton, Florida
If you suspect you have a rotator cuff injury, it’s time to see a high-quality orthopedic physician who can help diagnose and treat your injury. The expert orthopedists at Intercoastal Medical Group would love to help you feel better. You can make an appointment by calling our Bradenton office at (941) 362-8662 or our Sarasota office at (941) 955-6748. You can also request an appointment online.