Diagnosis & Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff TearThe pain associated with a rotator cuff tear is often described as a dull ache that originates deep in the shoulder. It may be accompanied by weakness in the arm and can cause difficulty reaching behind your back or overhead. Often the pain will disturb your sleep, especially when lying on the injured shoulder.
Rotator Cuff Tear Treatment OptionsDepending on the severity of the rotator cuff tear, there are nonsurgical and surgical treatment options available.
Treatments for Common Shoulder Injuries & ConditionsThe best remedy for preventing serious shoulder injuries is early detection. An orthopaedic surgeon will often prescribe a series of exercises aimed at strengthening the shoulder muscles. Other treatment may include the prescription of anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and swelling. When these treatments are not sufficient, surgery may be an option.
Shoulder ArthroscopyOrthopaedic surgeons perform arthroscopy to inspect, diagnose, and repair problems inside a joint. It can be used to perform a rotator cuff repair, SLAP repair, subacromial decompression, etc. A small camera, called an arthroscope, is inserted into your shoulder joint. The images are used by your surgeon to guide miniature surgical instruments. The benefit is that your surgeon can use very small incisions, rather than the larger incision needed for standard, open surgery, due to the thinness of the arthroscope and surgical instruments. This shortens the time it takes to recover, results in less pain for patients, and is more cosmetically pleasing.
Rotator Cuff Tear Nonsurgical Treatments and Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff RepairInitial treatment is nonsurgical in most cases. Your doctor may suggest rest, medicine, physical therapy, or a steroid injection. Many patients experience a gradual improvement and return to normal activity, although this option may take several weeks to months.
When nonsurgical treatment does not relieve pain, surgery may be an option. Your doctor may remove part of the acromion. This is known as a subacromial decompression. This procedure can be performed by shoulder arthroscopy, where minimally invasive surgical instruments are inserted into one centimeter incisions around your shoulder. Your doctor examines your shoulder through a fiber-optic camera.