Rotator cuff pain & tears
A rotator cuff tear is a common cause of pain and disability among adults. In 2008, close to 2 million people in the United States went to their doctors because of a rotator cuff problem. A torn rotator cuff will weaken your shoulder. This means that many daily activities, like combing your hair or getting dressed, may become painful and difficult to do.
When one or more of the rotator cuff tendons is torn, the tendon no longer fully attaches to the head of the humerus. Most tears occur in the supraspinatus muscle and tendon, but other parts of the rotator cuff may also be involved.
- Partial Tear
- This type of tear damages the soft tissue, but does not completely sever it.
- Full-Thickness Tear
- This type of tear is also called a complete tear. It splits the soft tissue into two pieces. In many cases, tendons tear off where they attach to the head of the humerus. With a full-thickness tear, there is basically a hole in the tendon.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication
- Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen reduce pain and swelling.
- Strengthening exercises and physical therapy.
- Specific exercises will restore movement and strengthen your shoulder. Your exercise program will include stretches to improve flexibility and range of motion.
- Steroid injection If rest, medications, and physical therapy do not relieve your pain, an injection of a local anesthetic and a cortisone preparation may be helpful.
- Arthroscopic surgery
- The surgeon makes very small openings (cuts) into the muscles of your shoulder and uses a device called an “arthroscope” (a small tube attached to a camera and tiny surgical instruments) to repair the tear.
- Open surgery
- The surgeon makes a larger opening into the muscles of your shoulder and repairs the tear with regular surgical instruments.
- Mini-open surgery
- The surgeon uses an arthroscope for the first part of the surgery, and then makes an opening large enough to use other surgical instruments for the repair. The opening does not have to be as big or affect the muscle as much as with open surgery.
- Activity modification. Avoid activities that cause shoulder pain.
- Take frequent breaks at work if your job requires repetitive arm and shoulder motions
- Apply cold packs and heat pads when you experience any shoulder pain or inflammation