Rotator Cuff Injury

What is a Rotator Cuff Injury?

Rotator-Cuff-TearA Rotator cuff injury is an all-too-common event for those who derive livelihoods from sporting events and the like – how many ESPN spots have you heard outlining such an injury, after all? However, these unpleasant events can happen to any blue or white-collar worker just as easily.

Due to the rotator cuff itself being the hub of almost any shoulder motions, even seemingly innocuous activities like painting or writing can cause damage with enough time. While most rotator cuff injuries are fairly easy to diagnose and treat, some might need surgery to correct.

What Causes a Rotator Cuff Injury?

Though rotator cuff injuries can occur due to any number of factors, there are a few things that can increase your chances. These include age, sport participation, occupation and genetics.

  • Age. As you get older, your risk of a rotator cuff injury increases. Rotator cuff tears are most common in people older than 40.
  • Certain sports. Athletes who regularly use repetitive arm motions, such as baseball pitchers, archers and tennis players, have a greater risk of having a rotator cuff injury.
  • Construction jobs. Occupations such as carpentry or house painting require repetitive arm motions, often overhead, that can damage the rotator cuff over time.
  • Family history. There may be a genetic component involved with rotator cuff injuries as they appear to occur more commonly in certain families.

Rotator Cuff Injury Symptoms

Rotator cuff injury symptoms typically manifest as a dull, deep ache around the shoulder itself, muscle weakness in the afflicted arm, and often difficulty sleeping or performing tasks that require you to raise an arm above shoulder height.

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain at rest and at night, particularly if lying on the affected shoulder
  • Pain when lifting and lowering your arm or with specific movements
  • Weakness when lifting or rotating your arm
  • Crepitus or crackling sensation when moving your shoulder in certain positions

Complications of a Rotator Cuff Injury

If you suspect you might have suffered a rotator cuff injury, it’s important to get it looked at as soon as possible. If left untreated, damaged rotator cuffs can result in irreversible paralysis of the shoulder and degeneration of the muscle tissue and ligaments there.

Preventing a Rotator Cuff Injury

The best way to prevent rotator cuff injuries, especially for those involved in high-intensity sports, is strengthening and attentiveness to the muscles surrounding the shoulder, including the back, arm and chest. Stretching and strength-training exercises can help in this endeavor.

Diagnoses & Treatment of a Rotator Cuff Tear

Most of the time, if your doctor suspects you’ve injured your rotator cuff, a quick physical assessment will be sufficient to tell whether this is the case. In rare cases, imaging such as X-rays and MRIs may be warranted, but typically only if a fracture is suspected.

Most rotator cuff injuries are mild in nature and will respond favorably to rest, relaxation, ice packs and mild physical therapy such as stretching and low-intensity strength exercises. Pain, if present, might be remedied by a steroid injection or medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Very rarely, if the injury is too severe, surgery may be warranted as well. Typically these surgeries are variants of tendon repair, however shoulder replacement may be necessary under certain circumstances as well.

With some preventative and cautionary measures, most rotator cuff injuries can be healed up quickly without recurring later on.

If you are experiencing a rotator cuff injury, call us today at 888-409-8006 to visit a shoulder specialist. Offices conveniently located in South Florida; Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach & Plantation.

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