About Shoulder Rotator Cuff Tears
The rotator cuff is a collection of tendons around the shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint) that allows for stabilizing the shoulder and range of motion. The tendons that make up the rotator cuff include the subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and teres minor. Tendons are the insertions of muscle on to bone. As such, this set of tendons allows the extensive movement of the shoulder joint, especially lifting or outstretching the arm above your head. A rotator cuff tear is a common tendon injury that causes intense shoulder pain and limits shoulder and arm mobility.
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Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tears
There are many different factors that can contribute to torn or injured tendons in the rotator cuff. Anyone at any age can suffer a rotator cuff tear from an injury. The most common causes include trauma, falling on an outstretched arm, or chronic degeneration. Repetitive use can also damage the tendons and cause shoulder pain and dysfunction. Another contributing factor is aging, as tendons are susceptible to degenerative issues that weaken the tendons as we get older.
Rotator cuff tears or injuries can cause pain and limit mobility of the shoulder joint. Some common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include:
- Recurring shoulder pain, especially when lifting the arm
- Weakness in the shoulder
- Limited mobility in your arm
- Pain in the shoulder when sleeping on that side
- Crackling or grinding sounds when using the shoulder
How Is A Rotator Cuff Tear Diagnosed?
Diagnosing a rotator cuff tear involves a multi-step approach to ensure accuracy. At Ospina Medical, our skilled physicians will start with a thorough examination, asking about your symptoms and medical history. You may undergo mobility tests to check for any limitations in your shoulder and arm movements. Advanced imaging techniques like ultrasound and MRI scans are often used to confirm the diagnosis. These images can help identify the extent of the tear, the tendons involved, and guide treatment options, which could range from conservative approaches like physical therapy to more advanced treatments like Regenexx regenerative medicine.
Treatments of Rotator Cuff Tears
Some mild rotator cuff injuries can heal with rest, followed by strengthening exercises and physical therapy. Pain for mild conditions can be managed with NSAIDs and heat/cold therapy. For non-healing partial tears or non-retracted complete rotator cuff tears other techniques may be required. At Ospina Medical, we offer accurate diagnosis of shoulder injuries and advanced rotator cuff tear treatments. Treatments for relieving and pain and inflammation include cortisone or steroid injections. These injections are performed with ultrasound and/or x-ray guidance to ensure accurate placement of medications around the painful tendons or within the shoulder joint. Extra care is taken to ensure that no steroids are injected within the tendon as this can lead to tendon weakness and in severe cases tendon rupture.
For those looking for more robust treatment options, Ospina Medical is proud to offer Regenexx regenerative medicine treatments for rotator cuff tears. By utilizing platelet-rich plasma (PRP), platelet lysate, and bone marrow concentrate containing stem cells, our Regenexx providers are able to heal damaged tendons, ligaments, and slow the progression of shoulder osteoarthritis. By utilizing these treatments, our patients are able to forego surgery, improve their pain, and return to their normal quality of life. While Regenexx treatments are a great option for most individuals with rotator cuff tears, not all patients may be considered good candidates.
If you are interested to learn more about Regenexx and whether you qualify for treatment, please reach out to Ospina Medical, located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City to speak with one of our Regenexx providers today.
Rotator Cuff Tear FAQ
What are the warning signs of a rotator cuff tear?
- Cracking or popping the in the shoulder
- Pain upon lowering or lifting the shoulder
- Pain when resting or lying down
- Weakness or reduced ability to lift or rotate the arm
Can a rotator cuff tear health by itself without treatment or surgery?
Minor rotator cuff sprains and strains can heal on their own with rest and rehabilitation in about 3 – 4 months, but a major rotator cuff tear cannot heal on its own without surgery.
How common are rotator cuff tears?
Very common. Almost two million people in the U.S. experience some level of a rotator cuff tear every year.
Who is at a higher risk for a rotator cuff tear?
In general, people over 40 who engage in repetitive actions (especially overhead), lift heavy objects, and who play sports are at a higher risk of developing a rotator cuff tear. Genetics, poor posture, and smoking can also increase your risk.
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