A Closer Look at Rotator Cuff Tears

A Closer Look at Rotator Cuff Tears

It's easy to take your shoulder for granted — until you experience pain with some of the hundreds of movements your shoulder makes to comb your hair, get dressed, or reach for a plate in a high cupboard. Only then do you begin to appreciate this complicated ball-and-socket joint and the tendons and muscles that help it work.

Dr. Jeremy Woodson and our highly trained staff provide innovative and effective orthopedic treatments at our office in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

Whether you're an experienced athlete looking to perform at your best or someone seeking relief from pain, we can help you reach your goals.

Rotator cuff tears

The shoulder consists of a ball-and-socket joint with the head of the upper arm bone fitting into the shoulder blade's socket. A collection of muscles and tendons comprise the rotator cuff, which covers the head of the upper arm bone to keep it stable.

Rotator cuff tears affect about two million people in the United States each year. They occur when one or more of the tendons tear and fully or partially detach from the head of the upper arm bone.

Causes of rotator cuff tears

Rotator cuff tears can be caused by a variety of factors. An acute or sudden tear can happen due to a fall or from awkwardly lifting something heavy. Dislocating the shoulder or breaking the collarbone can also result in a torn rotator cuff.

More often, tears occur over a longer period as use and aging play a role. Repetitive motions can cause problems, as can bone spurs and a decrease in the amount of blood flowing to the muscles and tendons. The incidence increases with age, with those older than 40 being at the highest risk.

Symptoms of rotator cuff tears

The pain can be intense if the tear is the result of an acute injury or milder if it comes on slowly over time. 

People will likely experience weakness and may struggle to lift items. Raising the arm may be difficult, and the discomfort may increase at night or when resting the arm. Clicking or popping sounds may also be present.

Diagnosis and treatment

A rotator cuff tear is typically diagnosed by a physical exam and potentially an X-ray, MRI, or another imaging test to see if the rotator cuff is stretched, frayed, or fully torn.

Depending on the severity, a variety of treatment options are available for partial tears. These range from rest and a shoulder sling to physical therapy, joint injections, or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or stem cell therapies

If the rotator cuff is severely or completely torn, surgery is often the best option and can be performed traditionally, arthroscopically, or robotically.

If you have a suspected or diagnosed rotator cuff tear, call our office today at 405-233-3602 for an appointment to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan and begin the road to recovery. You can also reach out to our team online. 

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