In some cases, shoulder pain is the result of a tear in the rotator cuff. This is a common condition but it is treatable and only in severe cases does it require surgery.
Only your doctor can diagnose a rotator cuff tear and provide treatment options. Here are some answers to common questions about this condition.
Causes of Rotator Cuff Tears
The shoulder is used constantly in our daily lives, so the causes of the rotator cuff can vary from wear and tear with age or from injury. The tear often occurs because of the wearing down of tendons as a person ages.
Several factors put a person at a higher risk for this condition.
- Family history
- Athletic involvement
As you age, the rotator cuff area receives less blood that leads to small tears. These smaller tears are often hard to repair and lead to larger tears, especially with the repetitive movement of the shoulder.
Jobs that require constant use of the shoulder and certain athletics puts a strain on the shoulder and you at risk of tears.
- Weight lifting
Bones spurs are also common as we age, and the spurs wear away tissue in the rotator cuff area and cause tearing
Symptoms Of Rotator Cuff Tears
Pain is the most common symptom of rotator cuff tears. This pain is felt even at rest and often worse at night when lying on the hurt shoulder. You also feel pain when moving the arm up or down.
Other common symptoms include:
- Clicking or popping sound when moving the arm
- Trouble raising your arm
- Weakness in the shoulder
If you suspect a rotator cuff tear, it's important to see a doctor. When left untreated, this condition can lead to more serious conditions, like arthritis or a frozen shoulder. The conditions are more difficult to treat than rotator cuff tear.
Treatments for Rotator Cuff Tears
If you stop doing the activity that is causing the tearing, a rotator cuff tear can heal on its own. Once a diagnosis is made, the doctor can recommend the best treatment.
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
- Over-the-counter pain medications
If these treatment options are not helping, you may need surgery. Your doctor may recommend arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. The procedure is outpatient and there are several arthroscopic techniques for rotator cuff tear repair.
This is considered the least invasive surgical option, and your doctor can discuss all treatment and surgical options for you. For more information on rotator cuff repair, contact your doctor.