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How Do you Know if you Have a Torn Rotator Cuff?

woman with shoulder painA rotator cuff injury can cause pain and loss of mobility that can interfere with your active life.

In this blog, orthopedic physicians Dr. Ather Mirza and Dr. Justin Mirza with Mirza Orthopedics explain how to know if you have a torn rotator cuff.

What is a torn rotator cuff?

Your rotator cuff consists of four muscles and tendons that surround your shoulder joint. It keeps the head of your upper arm bone stable within the socket of your shoulder while allowing you to lift and rotate your arms.

A rotator cuff has a partial tear when the tendon that protects the top of your shoulder becomes frayed or damaged. If the tendon develops a tear all the way through or is pulled off the bone, you have a complete tear.

How common is a torn rotator cuff?

A torn rotator cuff is quite common and can result from the following:

  • Sports-related injuries – often in sports that require repeated overhead motions, like tennis or baseball
  • Falling on your arm
  • Lifting something heavy
  • Repetitive overhead arm motions – such as those required in jobs like house painting and carpentry
  • Age-related wear and tear – especially after age 40

If other family members have this injury, you may be more likely to have it as well.

What are the symptoms?

The following symptoms are commonly associated with a rotator cuff injury:

  • A dull, deep ache in the shoulder
  • Increased pain when you sleep on your injured shoulder
  • Pain that radiates down the side of your arm
  • Arm weakness
  • Difficulty lifting your arm above your head or reaching behind your back
  • Acute pain
  • A snapping sensation

If you experience any of the previous symptoms, it’s important to see an orthopedist. The injury can get larger or more extensive over time, resulting in increasing pain and decreasing strength.

What are the treatment options?

In some cases, a rotator cuff tear can be treated without surgery. Your doctor may try one or more of the following treatments:

  • Resting your shoulder – possibly with a sling
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Steroid injections – to relieve inflammation
  • Pain medication such as acetaminophen
  • Physical therapy

Although most tears won’t heal on their own, many people can achieve good function and reduced pain without surgery.

Surgery can be recommended if non-invasive treatments aren’t effective enough or if you’re active and use your arms overhead for work or sports. Your doctor will re-attach the tendon, and it can usually be done arthroscopically using small incisions.

Where can you find the best treatment?

Mirza Orthopedics specializes in cutting-edge, minimally invasive procedures. We’re dedicated to research and innovation and have developed minimally invasive surgical devices that help patients get pain relief and restored mobility with less downtime.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff or are experiencing symptoms that point to this injury, make an appointment today with Mirza Orthopedics on Long Island today. We’ll use the least invasive, most effective treatments possible to help you get back to your active life.

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