The rotator cuff in the shoulder joint carries out the vital function of allowing the shoulder to move while keeping it stable. If the rotator cuff is torn due to an injury or degeneration, you would experience pain, instability, and have a tough time performing activities of daily living.
People who participate in sports or activities that require overhead motions are at greater risk of a rotator cuff tear due to injury. On the other hand, people over the age of years are most at risk to sustain a degenerative rotator cuff tear.
Regardless of what causes a rotator cuff tear, you should always see an orthopedic specialist for treatment. Once a specialist diagnoses the injury or condition, s/he can prescribe a customized treatment plan for complete recovery.
You have 4 rotator cuff muscles – supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. Each plays an important role in helping the rotator cuff function properly. Each muscle is attached to the upper part of the upper arm bone or humerus by tendons known as the rotator cuff tendons.
Like all other soft tissues of the body, the rotator cuff tendons are prone to wear and tear due to aging. When a rotator cuff tendon is partially or completely torn because of such degenerative processes, it is a degenerative rotator cuff tear.
Small degenerative rotator cuff tears may not produce any symptoms. When tears worsen over time, they start producing pain, stiffness, and weakness. Patients with complete degenerative rotator cuff tears are not able to carry out movements of day-to-day living, such as picking up and grabbing objects and lifting the.
Orthopedic surgeons are the most qualified doctors to diagnose degenerative rotator cuff tears. S/he would take a complete medical history. The patient is asked to describe the symptoms, when they started and whether they followed an injury. A physical examination is performed to determine the location and severity of the tear.
Diagnostic imaging studies, such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, may be advised and reviewed to definitively diagnose a degenerative rotator cuff tear.
Once an accurate diagnosis has been made, a treatment plan is designed specifically for an individual and prescribed.
The most common non-invasive treatment options include activity modification, medications, and physical therapy. Surgical treatment options may be recommended for severe rotator cuff tears. Surgery for a rotator cuff repair may be performed arthroscopically or as an open procedure to reattach the torn tendons to the upper arm bone.
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