The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that come together as tendons to form a "cuff" over the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) and hold your shoulder in place. The four muscles originate from the shoulder blade (scapula) and the rotator cuff tendons attach to the head of the humerus. This sophisticated network of muscles enables you to lift and rotate your arm.
If you have a torn rotator cuff, it’s likely that the ball of the shoulder within the joint is no longer stable. Your orthopedic surgeon may recommend arthroscopic surgery to fix this tear. During an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, your surgeon inserts a small camera into your shoulder joint and performs the repair, generally as an outpatient procedure. Arthroscopic repair is generally the least invasive method used to repair a torn rotator cuff.
A rotator cuff tear may result from an acute injury such as a fall, or may be caused by normal age-related wear and tear. Typically you’ll feel pain in the front of your shoulder and radiating down the side of your arm. When you perform overhead activities such as lifting or reaching, you may experience pain.
With cuff injuries, you may feel pain when you try to sleep on the affected side. You may also notice that your arm is weak and you have difficulty performing routine activities such as combing your hair or reaching behind your back. If you have a rotator cuff tear that is a result of an injury, you may experience acute pain and a snapping sensation along with immediate weakness in your arm.
If you have injured your shoulder or have chronic shoulder and arm pain, it is best to see an orthopedic surgeon. Early diagnosis and treatment of a rotator cuff tear may prevent long-term loss of strength and loss of motion.
Many rotator cuff tears can be treated without surgery. Anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, and physical therapy may all be helpful for treating symptoms of your rotator cuff tear.
Relieving pain and restoring strength to your injured shoulder are priorities. If you frequently use your arm for sports or for regular overhead work, however, surgery may be recommended because many rotator cuff tears will not heal without surgery. Surgery may also be recommended if you have persistent pain or weakness in your shoulder that does not improve with nonsurgical treatment.
If you are in St. Louis or Kansas City and are in need of arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, contact the expert and experienced orthopedic specialists of Signature Medical Group.