A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff can cause dull to severe pain that may worsen at night. The chances of rotator cuff injuries may increase with age. It may appear in people at an early age if they are involved in activities that require repetitive movement of the shoulders, like painters and carpenters.
The pain associated with a rotator cuff injury may include:
- Dull ache in the shoulder
- Pain that disrupts your sleeping
- Difficulty in raising hands
- Severe continuous pain every time while lifting the hands over the head
- Limited ability to move the arm
- Muscle weakness
- Crackling sensations when moving the arms
Rotator cuff injuries are mostly caused by progressive wear and tear of the tendons over time. There are several factors that could have lead to the rotator cuff injury:-
- Sudden fall or accident
- Injury increasing with age
- Repetitive job that requires lifting like painting or carpentry
- Certain sport like baseball, basketball, tennis and weight lifting
- History of rotator cuff injury in family
Without diagnosing the right cause of injury the doctor will not be able to suggest the appropriate treatment to the patient i.e. during a clinical examination, the healthcare provider will
Put pressure on different parts of the shoulder to assess the right point of pain and ask you to move your arms in different positions.
X-rays: Although an X-ray won’t reveal a rotator cuff tear, this examination can help detect bone spurs or other reasons of pain, such as arthritis
Ultrasound: Sound waves are used to create representations of structures inside your body, particularly soft tissues like muscles and tendons. It permits a doctor to examine the structures of your shoulder while you’re moving.
If the injury is not severe, the only treatments that might be needed in treating the rotator cuff injury would be rest, ice and physical therapy.
Physical therapy is the first treatment suggested to the patients. Exercising, making small movements can help restore the strength and flexibility of the shoulder.
Injections might help relieve the unbearable joint pain, especially when pain interferes with the sleep cycle, day-to-day activities or physical therapy. But it is important to understand that these injections can only provide temporary relief and if the pain persists surgery might be needed.
There are several different types of surgery suggested to the patient depending on the severity of the injury. Types of surgeries recommended:
- Arthroscopic tendon repair
- Open tendon repair
- Tendon transfer
- Shoulder replacement