Shoulder Injuries - Rotator Cuff Tears

Rotator cuff  

Among the most frequent sports injuries are shoulder injuries. Athletes in a variety of sports are subject to shoulder pain -- usually rotator cuff pain -- and rotator cuff injuries due to overuse and repetitive movement of the shoulder. Falls, impacts, and other accidents may also damage the rotator cuff.

Rotator Cuff Tear - Symptoms

  • Recurrent rotator cuff pain
  • Limited ability to move the arm
  • Muscle weakness

Your doctor has a number of options for medical treatment of rotator cuff injury. The following selection is a sampling; ask your doctor about the treatment that's right for you:

  • Rest
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Steroid injections

When medical treatments prove ineffective, your doctor may refer you to a sports medicine specialist for rotator cuff repair surgery.

Rotator Cuff Surgery

Rotator cuff surgery is often performed using an arthroscope. The lightweight, tubular body of this visual instrument contains a system of lenses, a small video camera, and a light source. The arthroscope is inserted into a small incision in the shoulder, and its camera is connected to a monitor screen. This allows your surgeon to view the inside of the joint, in order to guide other small tools which are similarly inserted through small incisions. The intention is to disrupt surrounding muscle and ligament tissue as little as possible while completing the rotator cuff repair.

Should your injury resist repair using arthroscopy, your surgeon may opt to perform an open repair. If the damage to your rotator cuff is extensive enough, your surgeon may present the option to perform a tendon graft, or even to replace your shoulder joint.

Learn more about rotator cuff repair... 

Image provided by Krames-Staywell.