The Causes Behind Rotator Cuff Injury
By Orthopaedic and Neurology Clinic
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that help stabilize the shoulder. They also aid in movement. So every time you move your shoulder, you are using your rotator cuff to stabilize and help move the joint.
The rotator cuff is a commonly injured area. The most common injuries are strains, tendinitis, and bursitis.
What causes a rotator cuff injury?
Rotator cuff injuries can range from mild to severe. They tend to fall into one of three categories.
Tendinitis is an injury caused by overuse of the rotator cuff. This causes it to become inflamed. Tennis players, who use an overhead serve and painters who have to reach upward to do their jobs commonly experience this injury.
Bursitis is another common rotator cuff injury. It’s caused by inflammation of the bursa. These are fluid-filled sacs that sit between the rotator cuff tendons and the underlying bone.
Rotator cuff strains or tears are caused by overuse or acute injury. The tendons that connect muscles to bones can overstretch (strain) or tear, partially or completely. The rotator cuff can also strain or tear after a fall, a car accident, or another sudden injury. These injuries typically cause intense and immediate pain.
What are some symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury?
Common rotator cuff injury symptoms include:
- avoiding certain activities because they cause pain
- difficulty achieving full range of shoulder motion
- having difficulty sleeping on the affected shoulder
- tenderness or pain when reaching overhead
- pain in the shoulder, especially at night
- progressive weakness of the shoulder
- trouble reaching behind the back
If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms for longer than a week or lose function in your arm, see our doctor.
“Rotator cuff tears can happen suddenly from a fall or accident, or develop over time from repetitive motion and overuse. A tear weakens the shoulder and makes it difficult or painful to lift your arm overhead, even to do routine things like brushing your hair or getting dressed.”
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What types of diagnosis?
Our doctor will press on different parts of your shoulder and move your arm into different positions to examine. He will also test the strength of the muscles around your shoulder and in your arms.
In some cases, he may recommend imaging tests, such as:
- X-rays. Although a rotator cuff tear won’t show up on an X-ray, this test can visualize bone spurs or other potential causes for your pain — such as arthritis.
- Ultrasound. This type of test uses sound waves to produce images of structures within your body, particularly soft tissues such as muscles and tendons. It allows dynamic testing, assessing the structures of your shoulder as they move. It also allows a quick comparison between the affected shoulder and the healthy shoulder.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technology uses radio waves and a strong magnet. The images obtained display all structures of the shoulder in great detail. Hence the quality of the images depends greatly on the quality of the equipment used.
Possible treatment methods?
The treatment of rotator cuff depends entirely on the cause of the problem. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you understand the cause of your symptoms before embarking on a treatment program. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, or the severity of your condition, you should seek medical advice before beginning any treatment.
Our therapist can teach you exercises tailored to the specific location of your rotator cuff injury. This can help restore flexibility and strength to your shoulder. Physical therapy is also an important part of the recovery process after rotator cuff surgery.
Treatments such as rest, ice and physical therapy — sometimes are all that’s needed to recover from a rotator cuff injury. If your injury is severe and involves a complete tear of the muscle or tendon, you might need surgery.
This treatment relieve Shoulder Pain quickly without the need for invasive surgery and pain medications. Shockwaves are acoustic waves which carry high energy to the painful shoulder. This energy promotes regeneration and repair of the soft tissues surrounding the afflicted shoulder.
Many different types of surgeries are available for rotator cuff injuries, including:
- Arthroscopic tendon repair. In this procedure, surgeons insert a tiny camera (arthroscope) and tools through small incisions to reattach the torn tendon to the bone.
- Open tendon repair. In some situations, an open tendon repair may be a better option. In these types of surgeries, our surgeon works through a larger incision to reattach the damaged tendon to the bone. Compared to arthroscopic procedures, open tendon repairs typically heal in the same length of time but recovery may be more uncomfortable.
- Tendon transfer. If the torn tendon is too damaged to be reattached to the arm bone, our surgeon may decide to use a nearby tendon as a replacement.
- Shoulder replacement. Massive rotator cuff injuries may require shoulder replacement surgery. To improve the artificial joint’s stability, an innovative procedure (reverse shoulder arthroplasty) installs the ball part of the artificial joint onto the shoulder blade and the socket part onto the arm bone.