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Rotator Cuff Tears

Rotator cuff tears are common among adults. It is a major cause of pain and weakness in the shoulder. Daily activities will become limited, such as combing your hair or getting dressed. These activities may be difficult and very painful to do on a daily basis.

Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. Your arm is kept in your shoulder socket by your rotator cuff. The rotator cuff helps to lift and rotate your arm. When your rotator cuff endures a tear, the tendon no longer attaches to the shoulder. Torn tendons typically begin by fraying, and as damage progresses, rotator cuffs can tear completely.

There are several factors that may contribute to a rotator cuff tear:

  • Repetitive stress – Repeating the same motions over and over again creates stress on your rotator cuff muscles and tendons.
  • Lack of blood supply – Without a good blood supply, the human body’s ability to repair damage to the tendons is weakened.
  • Bone spurs – Bone overgrowth is likely to happen as we age, and the spurs rub on the rotator cuff tendon. This will weaken the tendon over time, making it more likely to tear.

Treating Rotator Cuff Tears

About half of patients will respond to non-surgical treatment to relieve shoulder pain without rotator cuff surgery; however, shoulder strength is not likely to improve without surgery. Many popular non-surgical treatment options include:

  • Rest
  • Avoid activities that induce shoulder pain
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physical therapy and other strengthening exercises
  • Steroid injections

Your doctor may recommend rotator cuff surgery if you continue to experience shoulder pain. If your symptoms last longer than 6-12 months, or if you have significant weakness and loss of function, your doctor may also recommend rotator cuff surgery options. Your orthopedic surgeon will discuss the best procedure to meet your needs.

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