Rotator Cuff Injuries And Treatments
Shoulder tendon injuries occur most frequently in adults. The most common causes are repetitive movements and normal wear and tear. One prevalent type of injury involves damage to the band of tendons known as the rotator cuff. Conservative treatments can heal a rotator cuff injury, but in some cases, the damage must be surgically repaired.
The shoulder allows a greater range of motion than any other joint in the body. The bones that make up the ball and socket joint are held together by ligaments, and together they form the shoulder capsule. The four tendons of the rotator cuff surround the capsule and connect the shoulder joint with the upper arm bone, called the humerus.
The Rotator Cuff
The tendons of the rotator cuff play a key role in the function of the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff makes it possible for the shoulder to rotate and lift the arm. The rotator cuff also provides stability to the joint and keeps the arm bone in the correct position with the joint.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
Inflammation of the tendon tissues (tendonitis) and tears in the tendons of the rotator cuff can cause weakness and limit mobility in the affected arm. Pain or swelling in front of the shoulder or on the side of the arm can occur. It may be painful to raise or lower your arm. Sometimes the pain can be severe enough to wake you from sleep. Moving the arm can make a clicking sound in the shoulder.
Rotator cuff tendonitis and mild tears can be treated with non-surgical methods. Healing requires a combination of reducing inflammation, building strength, and increasing range of motion with treatments such as:
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Steroid injections
More serious tears in the tendons of the rotator cuff will likely need surgery to repair them. Orthopedic surgeons use arthroscopic surgery to treat rotator cuff injuries, usually as an outpatient procedure. The surgeon makes two small holes in the shoulder to insert the arthroscope and the surgical tool. The arthroscope has a camera to allow the surgeon to see inside the shoulder to repair the damage.
Whether treated with surgical or nonsurgical methods, recovering from a rotator injury takes time. Tendonitis can take a few weeks for full recovery using nonsurgical treatments. Recovery from surgery takes several weeks or months and includes rehabilitation exercises to restore strength and mobility.
For more information, contact a local orthopedic surgeon.