What are the Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury?
A rotator cuff tear is a very common shoulder injury. This type of injury generally happens to people whom must—either by necessity, due to their job; or by choice, as in playing sports—perform repeated overhead arm motions. Rotator cuff tears may cause a chronic dull ache in the shoulder, a pain that simply never goes away and may get worse if you try to sleep on the injured side.
What is a rotator cuff injury?
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles in the back of the shoulder, which together stabilize and support the joint. These muscles working together allow you to raise your arm above shoulder height, and to rotate your upper arm in toward your chest or out and away from your body. A rotator cuff injury is damage to any of these muscles or to the tendons that attach them to the bony structures of the shoulder. Rotator cuff injuries usually result in dull, aching pain in the shoulder rather than sharp pain.
What are the causes of rotator cuff injuries?
Rotator cuff injuries are most often the result of repetitive strain or overuse. Repeated overhead/overhand movements such as throwing a ball, painting, or even heavy lifting can cause wear and tear on the tendons over time, resulting in a rotator cuff injury. However, rotator cuff injuries may also occur due to trauma such as an injury sustained during sports or in a car accident.
What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury?
The most common symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include:
- A dull pain or ache in the affected shoulder
- Pain when you raise or lower the arm on the injured side
- Loss of strength in the injured arm and shoulder
- Pain in the affected shoulder at night, especially when you’re lying on it
- A “crackling” feeling that occurs when you move the shoulder
- Difficulty reaching behind your back
What are the treatment options for a rotator cuff injury?
It’s vital to have a proper evaluation when you first notice symptoms. Left untreated, rotator cuff injuries can lead to permanent disability of the shoulder, including weakness or stiffness. For some patients—depending on the type of injury and its severity—conservative treatment alone may relieve pain and improve function of the shoulder.
Conservative treatment measures include:
- Resting the affected shoulder and avoiding the activities that aggravate the pain
- Modifying these activities if avoidance is impossible
- Immobilizing the shoulder with a sling
- Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and inflammation
- Targeted exercises to stretch and strengthen the shoulder
- Steroid injections to reduce inflammation
If conservative measures are unsuccessful, surgery may be necessary in order to achieve long-term relief and to restore shoulder strength. Rotator cuff repair surgery involves reattaching the tendons to the bone at the head of the humerus (the upper arm bone). This can often be done arthroscopically, for a minimally invasive repair using very small incisions.
Where can I find treatment for my rotator cuff injury in Long Island?
Mirza Orthopedics specializes in diagnosing and treating all types of rotator cuff injuries, from simple inflammation to complex rotator cuff tears. If you’ve sustained a painful rotator cuff injury, the first step to becoming pain-free is scheduling a consultation with one of our Long Island shoulder specialists.
If you’re suffering from the symptoms of rotator cuff injury, contact Mirza Orthopedics today to schedule your appointment.