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Rotator Cuff Tear

Atlanta's Top Rotator Cuff Tear Surgeon

Exploring Rotator Cuff Tears

Rotator cuff tears are a leading type of orthopedic injury, with over millions of cases diagnosed annually in the U.S. These injuries can result in either a dull ache or a sharp pain deep in the shoulder, often intensifying when lying on the affected side.

Understanding Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff comprises four muscles and various tendons in the shoulder, connecting the upper arm to the shoulder blade. This structure stabilizes the shoulder and facilitates lifting and rotation. Due to its complex makeup, the rotator cuff is prone to injuries from wear and tear, falls, lifting, and repetitive arm actions, as seen in sports like tennis, baseball, or swimming. Rotator cuff tears are categorized into two types: acute and chronic.

  • Acute: This type involves sudden, severe pain following a tearing sensation, radiating from the shoulder down to the elbow. It significantly restricts shoulder movement due to pain and muscle spasm.
  • Chronic: This type develops gradually, leading to weakness and limited mobility in the shoulder. Pain often worsens at night, affecting sleep, and limits the ability to lift the arm to or above shoulder level.

Treatment Approaches for Rotator Cuff Injuries

The treatment for a rotator cuff injury depends on the tear's severity, location, the patient's age, and activity level. Options include both surgical and non-surgical methods, typically starting with conservative approaches:

  • Rest: Initial rest is crucial for reducing swelling and pain, but the joint should still be moved gently to avoid frozen shoulder.
  • Ice: Apply ice in the first 24 hours post-injury to lessen swelling and pain.
  • Heat: After the initial 24 hours, heat applications can aid in recovery.
  • Anti-Inflammatories: Medications like ibuprofen or aspirin can help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Physical Therapy and Exercise: Specific exercises and stretches can strengthen the muscle and treat many rotator cuff injuries.
  • Steroids or PRP Injections: Cortisone or PRP injections can alleviate inflammation and pain, but should be administered under medical supervision.

While most rotator cuff injuries don't necessitate surgery, severe cases, particularly torn rotator cuffs, might require surgical intervention, such as arthroscopy, especially if other treatments prove ineffective.

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