What Is Rotator Cuff Injury? Causes, Diagnosis And Treatment

What is Rotator Cuff Injury? 

A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons (SITS- Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor and Subscapularis) that surround the shoulder joint and keep the humeral head firmly within the shoulder’s shallow socket (scapular groove). A rotator cuff injury is a tear in the four muscles that stabilise your shoulder joint. It can result in a dull aching pain in the shoulder that often worsens with arm movement in all the planes. Rotator Cuff tears are broadly classified as partial-thickness or full-thickness tears. 

Rotator Cuff injuries are common with increasing age and with people, whose job demands repeated overhead motions. Lack of blood supply, bone spurs, sports that strain the rotator cuff are a few other causes of rotator cuff injuries. 

Rotator Cuff Tear Symptoms: 

  1. Pain when lifting the arm.
  2. Pain when lying on the side.
  3. Unable to lift the objects.
  4. Generalized shoulder weakness.
  5. Hear clicking/popping sounds when you move the arm above a certain angle. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Ignoring a minor tear can lead to severe complications of frozen shoulder or arthritis that are harder to treat.

Rotator Cuff Diagnostic Tests: 

  1. Physical examination: Your doctor will palpate on various parts of your shoulder and move your arm into various positions during the physical exam. He or she will also assess the strength of the muscles in your arms and around your shoulder.

In some cases, your doctor might suggest imaging tests like:

  1. X-rays: Although an X-ray won’t reveal a rotator cuff tear, this test can reveal bone spurs or other potential causes of pain, such as arthritis.
  2. MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses radio waves to give a detailed image of the soft tissues involved. It gives the precise location of the injury in the involved structures. 

Rotator Cuff Tear Treatment: 

The doctor may suggest a combination of treatments. Conservative treatment comprises rest, icing and physical therapy. Failure of pain relief from conservative treatment may require surgery. 

Conservative treatment mainly includes:

  1. Physical therapy to make the shoulder muscles stronger.
  2. Precautions and home exercise program as given by the physiotherapist. 
  3. Medications for pain relief. 
  4. Rest and icing to allow the shoulder muscles to heal.
  5. Steroid injections as and when suggested by the doctor. 

Failure of pain relief from conservative treatment may require surgery. Surgery may also be required when there is a complete tear.  Following are the most commonly performed surgeries for Rotator Cuff Tear. 

  • Arthroscopic approach. Your doctor will make a small cut in your shoulder and repair the tear with an arthroscope, which is a tube with a small camera and tiny instruments. As a result, your recovery time will be shorter than it would be if you had another type of surgery.
  • Traditional Open approach. Your doctor will use larger instruments to repair the tear in your shoulder muscles.
  • Mini-Open (arthroscopically assisted) approach. This procedure uses both arthroscopic and open techniques. Your doctor will begin with an arthroscope and progress to larger instruments as needed.
  • Transfer of a tendon. If your tendon is too torn to reattach, the doctors may be able to use a tendon from another part of your body.

Rotator Cuff Injury Prevention: 

If you fall in the high-risk population of getting a rotator cuff injury, or you are involved in sports like basketball, tennis etc., or your job demands a lot of overhead activities, rotator cuff injury can be prevented by strengthening the shoulder muscles. Regular physiotherapy consultations and home exercises are key to strengthening the rotator cuff muscles and reducing the risk of injury. 

Why Choose Sancheti Hospital, Pune for Rotator Cuff Tear Treatment? 

  • 56 Years Of Experience in Orthopedic and Rehabilitation. 
  • Use of latest technologies and types of equipment.
  • In-patient and Outpatient physiotherapy. 
  • Hassle-free appointment.

For more details or queries, reach us at our appointment desk: 88888 088 45

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