Rotator Cuff Injuries:
The shoulder joint enjoys a wide range of movement that allows us to indulge in sports like basketball, badminton, hockey and even ballet. It is formed by multiple bones including the humerus, collar bone and glenoid cavity of the shoulder blade, and muscles (especially the rotator cuff muscles and tendons). The rotator cuff is a sheath of muscles that wraps around the shoulder joint and is comprised of four muscles and their tendons. Together these help to stabilize the shoulder joint and ensure smooth movement. The rotator cuff is thus prone to several injuries and inflammation due to overuse of the shoulder joint.
Trauma/injury and degeneration are the two most common causes of rotator cuff injury. Injury to the rotator cuff causes tears in one or more tendons which attach to the head of the humerus (arm bone). It can result in either a partial tear or complete tear. These tears can be grouped into 2 categories:
- Acute tears usually happen in cases of lifting something heavy with a sudden jerk or falling on an outstretched arm.
- Degenerative tears occur when the tendon is slowly damaged over a long period of time. This usually occurs in the dominant hand (for example the right hand for a right handed person). The rotator cuff degenerates with age because of decreased blood supply, secondary to aging. Hence, repair of the tendons becomes slow, making them more prone to tears.
Repeated motion of the shoulder damages the rotator cuff too. Sports like tennis, baseball, weightlifting (which demand repeated motion of the arm) are common causes of degeneration of the rotator cuff. Occasionally, bony outgrowths called as “spurs” develop in the shoulder joint bones leading the tendon to tear as they repeatedly rub against the tendon.
Patients commonly experience symptoms like pain while using the arm or while resting in advanced cases, weakness of the arm due to repeated use, and a cracking noise in the shoulder while moving it. Aging is a common reason for degeneration. Professionals who engage in repetitive activity of the shoulder joint for e.g. athletes, carpenters, painters etc. are also prone to rotator cuff injuries or degeneration and might need to see an expert rotator cuff surgeon.
Rotator cuff tears can cause discomfort, pain, and weakness of the shoulder joint. Small sprains and strains can often be resolved with physical therapy and other conservative remedies. Longstanding pain, severe acute injury or a large tear sometimes call for rotator cuff repair surgery. Rotator cuff injuries can be treated with many levels of invasiveness. Patients may only need physical therapy to rehabilitate their shoulders. A rotator cuff repair is a surgical method of repairing the tear or detachment of the muscles of the shoulder joint. The surgery involves the stitching of the torn muscles back to their attachment point in the bone of the upper arm. It becomes particularly important when non-surgical methods have failed to relieve pain and weakness, especially in people who require constant use of their shoulders (like athletes). Rotator cuff repairs may be done as an open surgery or arthroscopically (with keyhole openings). The type of surgery is decided by the treating orthopedic surgeon depending on the severity of injury.
How Onto Orthopedics differs:
Dr. Shawn Hayden is a board certified and Harvard trained orthopedic surgeon. He possesses a combination of skill and precision necessary to perform rotator cuff repairs in an efficient, yet conservative manner. When you visit us, you will receive a personal meeting with Dr. Hayden. As part of your care, he will examine your shoulder carefully and recommend an appropriate course of treatment. Our medical team maintains an array of on-site diagnostic equipment to help facilitate an accurate diagnosis. Using ultrasound and direct radiography (DR) technologies, we can work to pin down the cause of your rotator cuff pain. Once determined, typical treatments range from non-invasive to minimally invasive arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. Working in this field since 2003, Dr. Hayden has acquired expertise in rotator cuff repairs, apart from other fields in orthopedic surgery. We make sincere efforts to deliver the best to our patients in terms of safe procedures, rapid recovery and minimal discomfort.
To learn more about our individualized rotator cuff treatments, please browse our shoulder care page or contact us today!