Rotator cuff injuries are common, but they're also serious. If they happen repeatedly or are left untreated, they can cause long-term damage to the tendons, muscles, and ligaments of your shoulder area.
But shoulder pain can happen for a variety of reasons. How do you know if the pain you're feeling is due to rotator cuff tear symptoms? When should you start looking to an orthopedic specialist for relief?
At , Dr. Sean Kaminsky treats hundreds of patients each year with different types of rotator cuff injuries. He utilizes the least invasive techniques and the most advanced technology to ensure that your shoulder heals quickly and correctly.
Read more as we discuss the mechanics of rotator cuff injuries, how they occur, risk factors, and various treatment options:
Identifying Rotator Cuff Injuries
The rotator cuff is composed of four muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint. These tendons help to attach the muscles to the upper arm bone, also known as the humerus. The rotator cuff plays a vital role in the movement of the shoulder and in the overhead activities of daily living.
However, this wide range of movement also makes the rotator cuff muscles susceptible to injury. When one of the muscles or tendons in the rotator cuff tears or becomes inflamed, it can lead to pain and reduced mobility of the shoulder.
How Do Rotator Cuff Injuries Happen?
Rotator cuff injuries can happen in several ways:
- Repetitive stresses on the shoulders can cause inflammation or microscopic tears.
- Repetitive overhead motions can increase the risk of rotator cuff injuries.
- An acute injury like a fall or lifting a heavy object can also cause a rotator cuff tear.
This is why certain workers are more susceptible than others to a torn rotator cuff, as well as certain athletes like swimmers, baseball players, and tennis players who use their shoulders extensively in the course of their training.
Risk Factors for Rotator Cuff Injuries
There are several risk factors for getting a rotator cuff injury. Some of the most common risk factors include:
- Repetitive overhead motions: As mentioned previously, certain occupations and activities that involve a lot of shoulder movement can put you at higher risk for rotator cuff injury.
- Age: Rotator cuff injuries are more common in adults over the age of 40 due to wear and tear on the tendons and muscles.
- Smoking: Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of injury due to the lack of oxygen and nutrients that can reach the muscles and tendons.
- Bone spurs: Bone spurs, or extra pieces of bone that form around the joint, can put added pressure on the surrounding soft tissue, leading to tendon tears.
Rotator Cuff Tear Treatment Options
Once you've achieved a rotator cuff tear diagnosis from your orthopedic surgeon, it's time to discuss potential treatment options. The good news is, rotator cuff injuries can often be treated non-surgically, or using minimally-invasive techniques. Rest, physical therapy, and medication can help to alleviate inflammation and pain. Dr. Kaminsky may prescribe corticosteroid injections or pain medication to help reduce swelling, relieve pain and arm weakness, and reduce inflammation.
If you do require surgery, Dr. Kaminsky utilizes minimally-invasive arthroscopic techniques to repair and reconstruct the torn tendon in about 30 minutes. During an arthroscopic procedure, a surgeon will make several tiny incisions around the affected area. Through these small openings, a camera is inserted so that Dr. Kaminsky can view and treat the tear without having to make large incisions.
Arthroscopic surgery of this nature reduces recovery time and encourages faster healing. After the procedure, Dr. Kaminsky will provide you with a complete rehabilitation program to help you regain strength and range of motion in your arm.
Visit Nashville's Top Shoulder Specialist
If you're experiencing shoulder pain and think you may have a rotator cuff injury, it's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Dr. Sean Kaminsky of can diagnose and treat rotator cuff injuries with the latest techniques, skills, and technology available.