Shoulder pain is a common ailment among Americans, with some needing the care of a doctor, and others being able to treat it on their own at home.
Those who require care from doctors may suffer from a torn rotator cuff, which may ultimately need surgery. If you have experienced a torn rotator cuff, the Atlanta shoulder surgeons at AICA Orthopedics are highly skilled at diagnosing and treating this type of injury.
What Causes A Rotator Cuff Tear?
Those most commonly affected by this type of injury are athletes, in particular, baseball pitchers due to the repetitive nature in which their arm endures. A rotator cuff tear occurs when one or more of the four muscles that form tendons around the shoulder joint becomes torn. Some cracks in the tendons are partial, whereas some are complete tears. Not all injuries are sports-related, but most tears are caused by repetitive motion or overuse of the shoulder.
As people age, rotator cuff tear injury becomes more common as wear and tear have occurred on the shoulder. After age 40, people are at an increased risk for this type of injury.
Rotator cuff tear symptoms include the following:
- Upon injury, pain is immediately present. Patients are often able to report exactly when the tear had occurred as a sharp pain occurs in the shoulder. An acute tear could be caused by lifting heavy objects or a fall.
- In some cases, if a rotator cuff tear is caused by overusing the shoulder, a dull aching pain may be present. This pain may be consistent, which could be a sign of a tear.
- Regardless of whether the pain you feel is a dull ache or a sharp pain, if you lay down and experience some level of pain on the affected shoulder, you may have experienced a tear. Falling asleep may prove troublesome as the pain and discomfort make laying down difficult.
- Limited range of motion is also another telltale sign of a torn rotator cuff as the muscles and tendons in the shoulder play a vital role in how you move your arm and shoulder. Lifting your arm over your head can prove to be difficult, and in this case, seeking medical attention may be necessary.
Is Surgery Needed?
Oftentimes, when someone hears of a tear, they immediately think that surgery must be the only way to correct the damage done. However, our shoulder surgeons believe in trying conservative methods first before deciding a surgical route. Anti-inflammatories may be prescribed as well as physical therapy and even cortisone injections, and if that course of action proves unsuccessful, then our surgeons will discuss other options.
If a tear is severe, surgery may be suggested right away as conservative approaches would only provide temporary relief. Increased pain and weakness in the shoulder could also occur if the tear is not addressed properly.