Utah Rotator Cuff Pain & Tear Treatment



Anatomy of a rotator cuff tear 


The rotator cuff is the group of muscles and tendons that cover the head of the humerus bone and connects to the shoulder blade to give the shoulder mobility. It consists of four different muscles that are joined by tendons. Rotator cuff tears affect roughly two million Americans annually. Those who have suffered from a rotator cuff tear describe the pain as nagging and often limiting to their normal daily activities, especially when the activities involve lifting the arm above the head.


Causes


The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. It allows the arm to move in circles instead of just back and forth. Between the bones and the rotator cuff is a small lubricating sac called the acormion that keeps the bones from rubbing against each other. A rotator cuff tear is diagnosed when one or more of the tendons becomes injured and no longer connects correctly to the top of the humerus bone. There are a number of different tears that can affect the rotator cuff, but the most common is the supraspinatus muscle and tendon which can cause the acromion to become irritated and inflamed, causing additional pain. The different types of rotator cuff tears are: acute, degenerative, partial, and full-thickness.

Injury is the most common cause of rotator cuff tear. Injuries include falling and catching yourself incorrectly or repetitive stress, such as throwing a ball over and over. Degeneration is often a contributing factor with rotator cuff tears. Degeneration symptoms include pain when resting on the shoulder or when the arm is lifted or lowered. A patient might also have weakness or hear a cracking noise when the arm is moved. When the cuff is already wearing away after decades of use, it is much easier for a tear to take place. The majority of rotator cuff tears occur due to a combination of degeneration and repetitive motion. People over 40 years old have the highest risk of suffering a rotator cuff tear. Rotator cuff tears affect roughly two million Americans annually.


Diagnosis


In order to diagnose a patient correctly, a physician will rule out arthritis and pinched nerves during a physical examination. He/she will check a patient's range of motion to detect the source of the pain and arm strength to determine the extent of the injury. The physician will likely order radiological imaging to get visual confirmation of the tear. This will usually be in the form of an MRI and/or ultrasound, rather than an X-ray. This is because X-rays do not show soft tissue, which is where the affected area will be visible.


Utah Rotator Cuff Pain Treatment


Roughly half of all patients with a rotator cuff tear can find relief from a combination of over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, physical therapy, and steroid injections. However, without surgery, the shoulder isn't being strengthened or repaired, but only reducing pain symptoms. If a patient tries more conservative methods without finding relief, surgery will likely be recommended to help them return to their normal activities without suffering from associated pain.

For more information on how Omega Interventional Pain can help treat your rotator cuff tear, please contact us at 801-261-4988 or fill out our contact form.