The name “rotator cuff” makes most people imagine a single object that holds the shoulder in place. In reality the rotator cuff is made up of multiple tendons and muscles that work together
to hold the ball on the upper arm in the socket created by the collarbone and shoulder blade. This combination of tendons, muscle, and bone gives the shoulder the greatest range of motion in any joint of the human body. This incredible range of motion can leave the joint, and its complex anatomy, open to injury.
The Where and How of Torn Rotator Cuffs
A tear in the rotator cuff is not usually a torn muscle, but a torn tendon. There are two ways tears can happen, either a sudden traumatic injury or through repetitive motion. Typically a traumatic rotator cuff injury occurs following a fall or after lifting a very heavy object. The more common repetitive motion type rotator cuff tears often occur in athletes who need to use their shoulders as part of their chosen sport. Football quarterbacks, swimmers, tennis players and baseball pitchers are all commonly seen for rotator cuff tears.
Minimizing The Potential For Rotator Cuff Injuries
In order to help prevent rotator cuff tears there are a few things patients can do at home. These preventative measures are:
- For jobs that require moving the shoulder in the same motion repeatedly take breaks often
- When taking part in sports that cause repetitive motion in the arm make sure to rest the shoulder as often as possible
- Exercise the shoulder to strengthen the muscles (check with a physician before starting any exercise regimen)
- If you feel any pain in the shoulder immediately stop what you are doing and call your orthopedic physician.
Treatments For Rotator Cuff Tears
As with most orthopedic injuries there are multiple treatment options including rest, immobilization, corticosteroid injections, and surgery. Which options your orthopedic doctor uses to treat your shoulder injury depend on the severity and duration of the injury. In most cases the physician will prescribe physical therapy in conjunction with the other treatments. Self-treating shoulder injuries is a not usually a good idea so it is important that you make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor. A physician will ensure that your shoulder is treated in the best away possible to get you back to doing the things that you enjoy. If you suspect you have a rotator cuff injury make an appointment with one of the orthopedic physicians at IBJI today.