Rotator cuff tears are a common injury to the shoulder joint occurring in patients of all ages. These tears can be devastating for patients because of how often they need their shoulder mobility for everyday activities.
What is wrong with my shoulder?
There are key symptoms included in diagnosing a rotator cuff tear. The first symptom patients usually notice is pain. The pain is usually most severe when performing overhead activities, focused on the outside of the shoulder, and in some cases, the pain keeps patients from sleeping at night. Secondly, weakness is a common symptom of a rotator cuff tears. Our providers at Direct Orthopedic Care (DOC) in Boise, Idaho can diagnose where weakness in the shoulder is coming from by performing tests to isolate tendons of the rotator cuff to evaluate the severity of weakness in the joint. When a patient is positive for rotator cuff tear upon the physical examine the next step is to confirm with an MRI test.
Now what do I do?
After someone is diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear there are a variety of factors to help determine treatment options. It is important to meet with an orthopedic surgeon, specifically one that specializes in arthroscopic shoulder procedures. After meeting with the shoulder surgeon there are a variety of treatment options they might recommend.
Some of the non-surgical treatment options patients can do on their own include rest and activity modification. This can give the rotator cuff time to let the inflammation go down and become less painful. Often times physical therapy will be ordered to help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles to maintain shoulder function. In addition to physical therapy, many physicians will give patients steroid injections to help reduce inflammation to make physical therapy more successful.
Only about half the time these non-surgical treatment options help with symptoms associated with rotator cuff tears. If non-surgical treatment is not an option or unsuccessful surgery would be considered. There are a variety of factors that play into the decision for surgery. For example, a person who lives a less active lifestyle may be able to deal with a small degree of pain on a regular basis. It is imperative for patients to be evaluated right away because of the complexity of a rotator cuff tear. In some cases, waiting too long can cause the tendon to retract making the repair more difficult or even impossible.
If you are having shoulder pain, walk-in to DOC 365 days a year!