Your shoulder is one of the most flexible joints in your body. It’s held together by your rotator cuff, which consists of a group of tendons and muscles. Whenever you move your arm, reach above you, or lift something, you use your rotator cuff.
Because your shoulders get so much use, they’re uniquely susceptible to injury. Rotator cuff injuries are the leading type of shoulder injury, and they can happen to anyone from elite athletes to weekend warriors.
Upper Extremity Specialists, members of Synergy Orthopedic Specialists Medical Group, can help you recover from a rotator cuff shoulder injury. If conservative treatments haven’t worked, you may need rotator cuff surgery. Read on to find out what the rotator cuff is and when surgery may be necessary.
Understanding rotator cuff injuries
Rotator cuff injuries can develop through years of overuse or as a result of an acute injury. Rotator cuff tendonitis is the most mild form of rotator cuff injury, and it occurs when the tendons in your shoulder get inflamed.
Rotator cuff bursitis may develop if you don’t seek treatment for rotator cuff tendonitis. If you have bursitis, the inflammation in your tendons spreads to the bursa, a sac of fluid that cushions the tendons and joints in your shoulder.
Signs of rotator cuff tendonitis and bursitis often include:
- Loss of mobility
- Loss of strength
A rotator cuff tear is the most severe type of rotator cuff injury. It develops when the tendons that connect your muscles to your bones stretch and tear. Common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include pain, weakness, and loss of function in your arm.
Conservative treatments for rotator cuff injuries
No matter how serious your rotator cuff injury is, you should seek treatment early. Getting effective treatment early can restore your range of motion, relieve pain, and help keep your shoulder injury from getting worse.
For mild to moderate shoulder injuries, conservative treatment options may help, such as rest, ice, and physical therapy. Physical therapy focuses on restoring flexibility and strength to the injured shoulder. If rest and physical therapy aren’t enough, steroid injections may be able to temporarily relieve any pain.
When it’s time to consider rotator cuff surgery
Pain that isn’t relieved with conservative measures might be a sign that you need rotator cuff surgery. If your shoulder injury involves a complete or partial rotator cuff tear, surgery may be your best option. Avoiding surgery for a partial or complete rotator cuff tear may lead to a permanent loss of function in your shoulder.
The good news is that Upper Extremity Specialist offers the latest in surgical technology to treat rotator cuff injuries. There are a number of surgical procedures available — from minimally invasive to open surgeries — for rotator cuff injuries, and our team can make the best recommendation for you.
Rotator cuff surgery is very effective at relieving pain and preventing injuries from getting worse. Surgery, in combination with physical therapy during recovery, can restore your mobility and eliminate your rotator cuff pain.
If you’ve suffered a rotator cuff injury, the health specialists at Upper Extremity Specialists can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.