Rotator Cuff Tear
Experiencing shoulder pain? If so, the problem could be your rotator cuff. The rotator cuff consists of four different muscles—the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor—that help with shoulder joint movement and stability. If there is injury or damage to any of these muscles or ligaments it can cause pain, swelling and decreased range of motion. Rotator cuff pain can be brought about through overuse, injury or from gradual wear and tear due to aging.
Damage to the rotator cuff can cause several symptoms:
- Pain or spasming in the shoulder
- Decreased flexibility and range-of-motion in the affected shoulder
- Fluid within the joint may be present, which can cause inflammation that reduces shoulder movement
- Arthritis or calcium deposits may appear over time
A rotator cuff injury can range from only mild pain and inflammation that will eventually go away to a full muscular tear that will need surgery in order to be repaired.
There are three different types of rotator cuff injuries that can occur: acute tears, chronic tears and tendinitis.
Acute rotator cuff tear: This injury usually occurs during sudden impact or heavy lifting. This tends to happen more often in those who are older.
Chronic rotator cuff tear: This is most often found in athletes and those whose jobs require them to perform repetitive motions. Sometimes chronic tears are due to past acute injuries that have caused permanent structural issues for your shoulder.
Tendinitis: This condition usually occurs in those who are older and have worn out the muscles in their shoulders. Tendinitis usually occurs in the area where the tendon meets the bone. This reduces the amount of blood that reaches that area, which can prolong mild injuries and even lead to subsequent tears.
For those with chronic tears, our main goal is to manage your symptoms. This includes the use of over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatories for targeting pain and swelling. If you don’t experience relief through conservative medications we may also recommend steroid injections. Physical therapy is often recommended to help strengthen and recondition the shoulder muscles to improve function.
Those with acute tears should ice the affected area daily and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. You should always come in to see us so we can access how bad your injury is and the best course of treatment for your particular case. We may also recommend using a sling in the short-term to help provide support for your rotator cuff muscles.
Patients with complete tears and those who don’t experience symptom relief after several weeks will most likely require surgery to properly treat their condition.
Interested in treatments for Rotator Cuff Tears from Roger G. Pollock, MD?
Call out Bergen County, NJ office at (201) 612-9774 today!