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What Is A Torn Rotator Cuff ?

What Is A Torn Rotator Cuff ?

What is a Rotator Cuff ? 

A rotator cuff is a group of tough tendons and muscles within the shoulder. It maintains the upper arm bone position within the shoulder socket, and it makes lifting and /or twisting the arm possible. Injuries to the rotator cuff are common. A torn rotator cuff tendon is the most common and primary cause of disability and pain within adults because it weakens the shoulder tremendously and makes many normal activities much more difficult and painful to perform.

Symptoms of a Torn Rotator Cuff Tendon

A torn rotator cuff tendon causes pain and discomfort. In many cases, the patient is unable to perform ordinary tasks like combing his or her hair or getting dressed. The pain is most often concentrated on the front and side of the shoulder as well as the upper arm. A torn rotator cuff tendon may also cause trouble sleeping due to the pain experienced when laying on the shoulder or the stiffening of the joint due to immobilization when sleeping during the night. Doctors are usually able to diagnose tears in the rotator cuff by performing a physical examination of the shoulder to locate painful areas. In some cases, other tests like X-rays, ultrasounds, or MRI's may be performed to rule out other injuries or to reach a more definite diagnosis.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

When damage to the rotator cuff occurs, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. When a tear goes untreated, it can lead to further damage and weakening of the shoulder that may make lifting the arm or performing normal daily tasks impossible. With treatment, most tears can be healed, but the shoulder and rotator cuff may remain weak and more susceptible to injury.

Rotator Cuff Treatment Options

Doctors often try to treat rotator cuff tears through non-surgical means. The first steps generally include resting the shoulder and using heat or ice in conjunction with anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce pain and swelling. While the shoulder heals, the patient should avoid any activities that cause pain. Physical therapy may also be recommended as a means of reducing pain and strengthening and increasing flexibility in the shoulder. Some patients need steroid shots to ease pain and make exercise possible while the injury heals. These treatments may take several weeks or even months to take full effect depending upon the severity of the injury.

Recovery From Rotator Cuff Injury

When a rotator cuff tendon is severely torn it may need to be treated surgically. This is generally the final but good option if other methods of treatment have failed and the rotator cuff is still generally in good condition. Even with a successful surgery, several months of follow up physical therapy may also be needed to restore strength and flexibility.

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