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How Do I Know if I Have Damaged My Rotator Cuff?

Roughly 2 million people annually see a doctor for injuries to their rotator cuff, says the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. This injury is marked by pain and weakness in your shoulder and makes everyday activities such as combing your hair or getting dressed feel difficult or impossible. If you think you may have suffered an injury to your rotator cuff, it's vital to seek medical care as soon as possible. Left untreated, this type of injury may lead to complete loss of motion in the affected arm or degeneration of the affected shoulder joint.


What Is A Rotator Cuff Injury?

Your rotator cuff is a group of four tendons. They cover the head of your upper arm bone, or humerus, and attach it to your shoulder blade, or scapula. This allows you to raise and lower your arm at will. When one or more of the tendons tears or pulls away from the humerus, you have a rotator cuff injury. It's possible to have different degrees of injury because, in most instances, before tendons pull away completely, they'll begin to fray. All of these instances will cause pain and will make movement difficult.


Causes of Rotator Cuff Injuries

You can injure your rotator cuff in different ways, including:

  • Using repetitive arm motions -- Baseball pitchers, tennis players, house painters, weightlifters, and construction workers are among the most frequent sufferers of this type of injury.
  • Aging -- As you age, your risk of injury becomes greater. Most injuries happen to people over the age of 40.
  • Suffering physical trauma -- A fall or accident may cause you to injure your collarbone, or dislocate your shoulder. Both may result in a rotator cuff injury.
  • Genetics -- Family history may make you more prone to rotator cuff problems.

A rotator cuff injury is a common injury, and treatment may be surgical on non-surgical, depending upon how badly the tendons are torn.


Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Injury

If you tear one or more tendons in your rotator cuff, you'll instantly know that something is wrong. It's impossible to overlook the pain and loss of motion involved. Symptoms include pain when your arm is at rest and pain when you try to move it. Your arm may feel weak, and your hand may be unable to clasp items fully. You may also hear crackling or popping sounds when you move in a certain way. It's also possible for your shoulder to lock into place.



Treatment for Rotator Cuff Injuries

Treatment for rotator cuff injuries will vary based on the degree of damage involved. The goal is always to alleviate your pain and restore full function to your shoulder and arm. The sooner you seek medical care for rotator cuff pain, the less damage may be involved. This will help you return to full use sooner.

When it comes to treating your rotator cuff, nonsurgical intervention is usually the first line of defense. This may include multiple therapies such as:

  • Resting and restricting movement -- your doctor may fit you for a sling that allows your arm to remain as immobile as possible while tendons heal.
  • Medicating -- Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or steroid injections to treat the pain and inflammation involved.
  • Exercising -- Exercises may be recommended to help strengthen the muscles surrounding your shoulder. Stretches may also help improve your range of motion and flexibility.

If nonsurgical intervention does not help,  the next step may be surgery in order to reattach the tendon to your humerus. This is often the case if you live a very active lifestyle, have been suffering pain for more than 12 months, or if you've suffered a large tear.


Contact Prime Surgical Suites Today

If you've developed shoulder pain, weakness, or loss of motion in your shoulder or arm, you may need treatment for a rotator cuff injury. In Granite Falls, the experienced orthopedic surgeons at Prime Surgical Suites are waiting to help. Our state-of-the-art facility and patient-focused care will alleviate your pain and help you regain full range of motion again in no time. Contact us today.


At Prime Surgical Suites, we provide state-of-the-art, cost-effective musculoskeletal surgical care in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting for patients of all ages. Located in RiverCrest Medical Park, we are the region's first outpatient center focused exclusively on orthopedics. Our physician-led center will help restore your active lifestyle and well-being with compassion and orthopedic excellence.

Tags: Shoulder