Rotator Cuff Tears
What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear or rotator cuff injury of the shoulder?
– Swelling and pain in the front of the shoulder and side of the arm
– Pain felt when raising or lowering the arm
– A clicking sound when raising the arm
– Weakness in the affected arm
– Pain that causes you to wake from sleep
– Pain when reaching behind the back
What is the treatment for a rotator cuff tear?
– Steroid injections, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy may all be useful in the treatment of rotator cuff tears.
– For partial tears, good function can often be achieved without surgery, however full rotator cuff tears almost always need surgery.
– If you are active and use your arm for overhead work or sports, and have pain, then surgery is often recommended because many tears will not heal without surgery and may get larger with time.
– Surgery is generally recommended if you have persistent pain or weakness in your shoulder that does not improve after several months of non-surgical treatments.
– Surgery is also generally recommended when the tear is large (more than 3cm) and often recommended when the tear is caused by a recent, acute injury or getting larger on serial scans.
What does surgery involve?
– During a rotator cuff repair, the tendon is reattached to the tuberosity bone of the humerus from which it has been torn.
– This is done using suture anchors in a minimally invasive, arthroscopic fashion.
– Bone spurs can also be removed in a similar fashion to prevent further tendon injury.
– Being a completely arthroscopic surgery, rotator cuff repair surgery is now a more minor procedure than it used to be and is often done as a day surgical procedure.
– The recovery however, still generally requires a sling for 6 weeks to protect the repair until it heals. See our protocol for rotator cuff tears here.