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Rotator Cuff Tear

What is a Rotator Cuff Tear?

A rotator cuff is a group of tendons in the shoulder joint that provides stability and enables a wide range of motion. An injury to one or more of these tendons may result in a rotator cuff tear. It is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain in middle-aged and older individuals.

What are the Causes of Rotator Cuff Tears? 

A rotator cuff tear may occur with repeated use of the arm for overhead or reaching activities, playing sports, or from a motor vehicle accident.

What are the Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tears?

A rotator cuff tear causes pain, weakness of the arm and occasionally a crackling sensation on moving the shoulder in certain positions. There may be stiffness, swelling, loss of movement and tenderness in the front of the shoulder.

How is a Rotator Cuff Tear Diagnosed? 

Your surgeon diagnoses a rotator cuff tear largely based on a physical examination. X-rays will also be obtained to evaluate the bones and rule out other pathology. A rotator cuff tear is best viewed on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

What are the Treatment Options for Rotator Cuff Tears?

Conservative treatment

The conservative treatment options for rotator cuff tears are:

  • Rest
  • Temporary use of a shoulder sling
  • Injection of a steroid (cortisone) into the subacromial space to relieve inflammation and pain
  • Range of motion and strengthening exercises

Surgery for Rotator Cuff Tears 

Rotator cuff repair may be performed by open or arthroscopic surgery. In arthroscopy, small incisions are made around the shoulder and a small camera is inserted to visualize the joint and the space around the rotator cuff tendons. If necessary, the cuff tear is repaired using suture anchors. These anchor sutures help in attaching the tendons to the shoulder bone. Following the surgery, you may be advised to practice motion and strengthening exercises.

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