Have you been diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury? If so, you may be struggling with the decision to undergo surgery to repair your damaged shoulder. In order to determine if surgery is necessary, it is first important to understand that rotator cuff tears can get larger over time when left untreated. This means that a partial tear that begins small may turn into a full-thickness tear without proper treatment.
How Does a Rotator Cuff Tear?
There are a variety of ways in which a rotator cuff injury may occur. In many cases, rotator cuff tears are a result of age-related degeneration and “wear and tear”. In other cases, a rotator cuff tear may result from an injury to the shoulder, such as a damaging fall. In cases where a rotator cuff tear is present, it is common to feel pain that starts in the front of the shoulder and extends down the side of the arm. Additionally, tasks such as lifting and reaching or even sleeping on the affected shoulder can cause pain and weakness.
How Do Rotator Cuff Tears Extend?
Rotator cuff tears can extend as a result of repetitive use or due to an additional injury. If you have a known rotator cuff injury and experience weakness or intense pain following a minor injury to the shoulder, this may indicate an extension of an existing tear.
In order to avoid additional injury to the shoulder as well as alleviate current symptoms, your doctor may recommend rotator cuff repair surgery based on the following 3 factors.
- Nonsurgical treatment methods have failed to produce results: Although most rotator cuff tears will not heal on their own, at times shoulder function can be restored without surgery. Rotator cuff tears can be treated with nonsurgical methods such as steroid injections, anti-inflammatory medications, and even physical therapy. However, if these methods fail to relieve your pain and restore strength to your shoulder, surgery may be the best option.
- Ongoing Pain and Weakness: There is nothing more frustrating than living with chronic pain. In cases where you are unable to sleep and rest due to shoulder pain, or if you have difficulty lifting and reaching, even with the assistant of non-surgical treatments, surgery may be warranted.
- Severity of Tear: As previously stated, most rotator cuff tears will not heal on their own. Therefore, based on the severity of your tear, rotator cuff repair may be necessary. In cases where a partial tear is found, a debridement may be recommended. A debridement is a procedure used to trim or smooth the tear. However, in cases of a full-thickness tear, open repair, mini-open repair, or arthroscopic repair, may be recommended by your doctor.
If you have suffered an injury to the shoulder, be on the lookout of worsening pain and decreasing of strength in the shoulder. If you experience any of these symptoms, evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon, such as the experts at South Shore Orthopedics, should be of the utmost priority.
Learn More About Rotator Cuff Repair At South Shore Orthopedics
If it is time for you to discuss rotator cuff repair, schedule a visit with South Shore Orthopedics today. Our team of shoulder experts will evaluate, diagnose, and make treatment recommendations that fit your needs. Learn more about how our experts are treating shoulder pain today.