orthopedics

A unique way to treat rotator cuff injuries

When you hear the words “rotator cuff,’’ many people, especially baseball fans, shudder, thinking about their favorite pitcher hurting his shoulder.

But you don’t have to be an athlete to feel the pain. Rotator cuff injuries occur most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions, the Mayo Clinic says. That can include baseball and tennis players—and painters and carpenters.

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder, the Mayo Clinic adds. A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder, which often worsens when you try to sleep on the involved side. The risk of rotator cuff injury increases with age.

At Signature Medical Group, our orthopedic specialists are experts in treating rotator cuff injuries. You can often see us the same day you make an appointment and we offer convenient hours at our Orthopedics Now! clinics in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas.

Many people recover from rotator cuff injuries with physical therapy exercises that improve flexibility and strength of the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. But if you need surgery, Signature surgeons are adept with the latest techniques to help you heal faster.

Dr. Randall Otto of Premier Care Orthopedics and Sports Medicine has performed more than 500 shoulder surgeries. One of his specialties is a procedure called reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (reverse TSA).

“A reverse TSA is unique because it doesn’t rely on the rotator cuff,’’ Dr. Otto says. “The rotator cuff is minimally involved in a reverse TSA, whereas with a conventional shoulder replacement, the rotator cuff muscles help to allow proper function of the device. This is what makes a reverse TSA ideal for a patient with a complex or irreparable rotator cuff tear.”

Dr. Otto adds, “With a conventional shoulder replacement, the replacement device mimics a normal shoulder, by fitting a plastic cup into the shoulder socket, and a metal ball is fitted into the cup. A reverse TSA reverses the socket and the metal ball, so the metal ball is fitted to the socket, and the plastic cup is attached to the deltoid muscle, rather than to the rotator cuff tendons.”

Dr. Otto continues: “If you’re suffering from a rotator cuff problem that is not repairable, a reverse TSA is a solution that can reduce pain and increase function. The ideal patient for this type of a procedure is someone who has suffered from a chronic issue or pain in the shoulder, or if a conventional treatment failed them.”

If you have more questions, it’s easy to contact Dr. Otto and other Signature Medical Group orthopedic specialists. Make an appointment today.