What is a rotator cuff injury?

What is a rotator cuff injury?

What is a rotator cuff injury?

The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles and their tendons, which connect the humerus to the shoulder blade. The job of the rotator cuff is to keep the shoulder joint stable. The rotator cuff can become irritated or inflamed due to heavy lifting, repetitive arm movements, or trauma. A rotator cuff tear is present when injuries to the muscles or tendons cause tissue damage or disruption. These tears often develop as a result of long-term overuse of the shoulder or a traumatic injury. Rotator cuff tears can also occur in combination with irritation or injuries of the biceps tendon or with labral tears.

What does it feel like?

Rotator cuff tears can cause:

  • Limited motion and pain that limits the ability to complete common daily activities
  • A sense of weakness or heaviness in the arm
  • Inability to lift the arm to reach upward
  • Pain radiating down the outside of the arm and the top of the shoulder
  • Inability to reach behind the back
  • Loss of motion in the shoulder

What does diagnosis involve?

A specialist will complete a thorough examination that includes evaluating symptoms, assessing the range of motion in the arm, identifying any weakness, and performing other special tests that may indicate a rotator cuff tear. For example, the specialist might request that the patient raise the injured arm, move the arm out to the side, or raise the arm and resist a force, all at specific angles of elevation, that can help diagnose the origin of shoulder pain. In some cases, the results of these tests might indicate the need for ultrasound imaging, a CT scan, or an MRI.

What comes next?

Once a rotator cuff tear has been diagnosed, the specialist will advise on whether surgery is required or if you can manage the injury without it. If surgery is not needed, physical therapy will help restore range of motion, coordination, and muscle strength so that you can resume regular activities. Modifying physical activity may be required to reduce stress on the shoulder. If surgery is the only option, physical therapy is likely to be recommended before and after the procedure. It is important to note that prompt treatment can help speed the healing process and avoid permanent damage. We are here to help with trusted and reliable expertise when the advice of an Orthopedic Surgeon in Deland is required.

Can rotator cuff injury be avoided?

To avoid developing a rotator cuff tear from existing shoulder problems, it is imperative to stop performing movements that may worsen the issue. Physical therapy can help to strengthen rotator cuff muscles, provide education on avoiding potentially harmful positions, and determine when it is appropriate to return to normal activities. Rotator-cuff muscle and shoulder-blade strengthening exercises can assist in avoiding potential harm to the rotator cuff, and general strengthening and fitness programs may improve shoulder health. It can also be helpful to avoid lying on your shoulder or sleeping on your side with your arm stretched overhead. These positions can begin the process that causes rotator cuff damage and may be associated with increased pain levels. Contact us if you need resources and guidance from a reliable Orthopedic Surgeon in Deland or the surrounding area.