Rotator Cuff Tears in Austin Texas
Rotator Cuff Injuries
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, with the head of the upper arm bone (ball) fitting into a shallow socket of the shoulder blade. The arm is kept in this socket by the rotator cuff, a group of four muscles that cover the ball, or top of the upper arm bone. A bursa also lies between the rotator cuff and the bone on the top of the shoulder. The bursa allows the rotator cuff to move smoothly with the arm.
Rotator cuff injuries can range from minor inflammations of the protective bursa to complete tears of the rotator cuff muscle. The two main causes of rotary cuff tears are injury and degeneration.
Degeneration of the rotator cuff occurs naturally with age, with the dominant arm more likely to tear from the following causes:
- Repetitive stress: moving the shoulder in the same motions repetitively, often caused by sports such as baseball, tennis, rowing, or even household chores
- Lack of blood supply: decrease in blood supply to the rotator cuff with age lessens the muscle’s ability to repair itself
- Bone spurs: bone overgrowth can develop on the underside of the shoulder blade, and can rub the rotator cuff tendon (also called shoulder impingement)
Acute tears result from trauma to the rotator cuff, often from an outstretched fall or heavy lifting. Other shoulder injuries such as broken collarbones and dislocated shoulders can also cause a tear.
Acute tears usually cause intense, sudden pain. Degenerative damage or tears can develop gradually and may be felt as:
- Pain at rest and at night, often when lying on the affected shoulder
- Pain when lifting and lowering the arm or with specific movements
- Weakness when lifting or rotating the arm
- A crackling sensation when moving your shoulder in certain positions
There are surgical and nonsurgical treatments for rotator cuff injuries. In about 50% of patients, nonsurgical treatment can relieve shoulder pain and improve function. Nonsurgical treatment can include:
- Rest: Avoid overhead movements. A sling may also be worn to keep the shoulder still.
- Anti-inflammatories: Oral NSAIDs can reduce pain and swelling.
- Physical therapy: Targeted exercises can help restore movement by strengthening the shoulder muscles and improving range of motion.
- Steroid injections: Cortisone injections may be used if rest, medication and physical therapy do not relieve pain and inflammation.
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