The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint. They keep the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) secure in the shoulder socket. A shoulder injury can affect the rotator cuff, causing a dull ache in the shoulder, which may worsen when sleep on the affected side.
Rotator Cuff Tears
A rotator cuff tear is a common injury, in sports such as baseball, or in jobs such as cleaning windows. It can occur due to age-related wear and tear or overuse and repetitive motions. Your rotator cuff may also get injured if you fall on your arm or lift something heavy.
A rotator cuff tears can be partial (when the tendon is frayed) or complete (the tendon is pulled off the bone).
Rotator Cuff Tear Symptoms
A rotator cuff tear may present as –
- trouble raising your arm
- pain with certain arm movements
- pain when you lie on the affected side
- weakness in the shoulder
- inability to lift things
- clicking or popping sounds with arm movement
Left untreated, a torn rotator cuff can lead to a frozen shoulder or arthritis which is harder to treat.
Treatment for Rotator Cuff Tears
The orthopedic doctor would initially recommend –
- physical therapy to strengthen shoulder muscles stronger
- anti-inflammatory drugs to help with pain and swelling
Surgery may be required in some cases, especially if you have a complete tear. Surgery can be done to stitch together the torn area or reattach the tendon to the bone.
There are three types of rotator cuff surgery:
- Arthroscopic or minimally invasive surgery
- Open surgery
- Mini-Open surgery that uses both arthroscopic and open methods