What is a Rotator Cuff Tear?
Rotator cuff is the group of tendons in the shoulder joint providing support and enabling wider range of motion. Major injury to these tendons may result in tear of these tendons and the condition is called as rotator cuff tear. It is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain in middle aged adults and older individuals.
Who is Affected by Rotator Cuff Tears?
Those affected by rotator cuff tears include:
- People over the age of 40
- Athletes such as bodybuilders, basketball and tennis players
- Manual labourers such as painters and carpenters
- Anyone who performs a lot of overhead lifting or work
How Does a Rotator Cuff Tear Occur?
Rotator cuff tears can occur suddenly if you fall on outstretched arm, lift a heavy object with a jerking motion, sustain a fracture of your collar bone, dislocate your shoulder. Gradual tearing of the rotator cuff may occur due to repetitive stress, diminished blood supply, and the formation of bone spurs that rub against the rotator cuff
What are the Causes of Rotator Cuff Tear?
Rotator cuff tear results from pressure on the rotator cuff from part of the shoulder blade (scapula) as the arm is lifted. It may occur with repeated use of arm for overhead activities, while playing sports or during motor accidents.
What are the Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tear?
Rotator cuff tear causes severe pain, weakness of the arm, and crackling sensation on moving the shoulder in certain positions. There may be stiffness, swelling, loss of movements, and tenderness in the front of the shoulder.
Types of Rotator Cuff Tears
The different types of Rotator Cuff Tears are:
- Partial-Thickness Rotator Cuff Tears: The rotator cuff tendon is torn by not completed severed from its attachment to the bone.
- Full-Thickness Rotator Cuff Tears: The rotator cuff tendon is completed severed from its attachment to the bone
Stages of a Rotator Cuff Tear
The different stages of a rotator cuff tear are:
- Inflammation and oedema: During this stage, there will be shoulder pain with certain movements, swelling, and difficulty performing overhead activities.
- Tendonitis and fibrosis: During this stage, there will be increased pain and weakness in the shoulder and a catching sensation with overhead activities. The tendon will be markedly inflamed.
- Formation of bone spurs and tendon rupture: Bone spurs are tiny bony protuberances that rub against the rotator cuff tendon and cause a rupture.
How is a Rotator Cuff Tear diagnosed?
Your surgeon diagnoses rotator cuff tear based on the physical examination, X-rays, and imaging studies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). rotator cuff tear is best viewed on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
How is a Rotator Cuff Tear Treated?
Non-Surgical Treatment for Rotator Cuff Tears
The conservative treatment options for rotator cuff tear are:
- Shoulder sling
- Pain medication Injection of a steroid (cortisone) and a local anaesthetic in the subacromial space of the affected shoulder to help decrease the inflammation and pain
- Certain exercises
Surgical Treatment for Rotator Cuff Tears
The various treatment options for rotator cuff tears include:
Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair
Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is an advanced minimally invasive procedure in which repair of a torn rotator cuff is performed through small keyhole incisions. The procedure causes very little damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Most patient recover quickly and can return to their normal activities with minimum delay.
What if a Rotator Cuff Tear is Untreated?
Untreated rotator cuff tears usually result in progressively worsening pain and loss of shoulder range of motion with inability to raise your arm overhead.