Rotator Cuff Tears

A rotator cuff tear is a common injury that affects the muscles and tendons in the shoulder. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and their tendons that work together to stabilise and move the shoulder joint. When one or more of these tendons become damaged, it can cause a rotator cuff tear.

Causes of Rotator Cuff Tears:

Rotator cuff tears can be caused by a sudden injury or by repetitive motions that put stress on the shoulder. Some common causes include:

  • Falls or direct blows to the shoulder
  • Repetitive overhead motions, such as those used in sports like tennis, swimming, or baseball
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Age-related degeneration of the tendons

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tears:

Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear can vary depending on the severity of the tear. Some common symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the shoulder, especially when reaching overhead or behind the back
  • Weakness in the shoulder or arm
  • Difficulty lifting objects or performing daily activities
  • Clicking or popping sounds when moving the shoulder
  • Limited range of motion in the shoulder

Diagnosis of Rotator Cuff Tears:

We can diagnose a rotator cuff tear through a physical exam and imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI or ultrasound. During a physical exam, I will check for tenderness, weakness, and range of motion in your shoulder. Imaging tests can confirm the diagnosis and determine the extent of the tear.

Treatment of Rotator Cuff Tears:

Treatment for a rotator cuff tear depends on the severity of the injury. Mild to moderate tears can often be treated with rest, ice, physical therapy, and pain medication. If these conservative treatments don’t improve your symptoms, surgery may be necessary to repair the torn tendon.

Surgical treatment options for rotator cuff tears include:

  • Arthroscopic surgery: A minimally invasive procedure that uses small incisions to repair the torn tendon
  • Open surgery: A more traditional approach that requires a larger incision to repair the tendon
  • Tendon transfer: If the tendon is too damaged to be repaired, a tendon from another part of the body may be used to replace it.

Recovery from Rotator Cuff Tears:

Recovery from a rotator cuff tear depends on the severity of the injury and the type of treatment you receive. Recovery can take several months, and physical therapy is often necessary to rebuild strength and flexibility in the shoulder.

In conclusion, a rotator cuff tear is a common injury that can cause pain, weakness, and limited range of motion in the shoulder. If you suspect you have a rotator cuff tear, it is important to seek medical attention promptly to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. With proper treatment and rehabilitation, most people are able to regain full function of their shoulder.