Rotator Cuff Injury Symptoms and Treatments – Orthopedic Los Angeles


Rotator Cuff Injury & How to Treat It

In 2008, almost 2 million people in the United States went to their doctors due to rotator cuff problems. A torn rotator cuff is a common cause of pain and disability among adults, especially in older people. The rotator cuff is one of the most important parts of the shoulder because it is composed of muscles and tendons that hold the bones of the shoulder joint together. The muscles of the rotator cuff allow people to lift their arms and reach over their heads. Rotator cuff shoulder injuries can be caused by a forceful incident like a fall, or by repetitive motion like throwing a baseball repeatedly.

Many people recover from rotator cuff injuries through physical therapy of the shoulder joint. However, severe rotator cuff injuries, including complete tears of the muscle or tendon, may require surgery.

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N O N S U R G I C A L   T R E A T M E N T

In about 50% of patients, nonsurgical treatment can relieve pain and improve shoulder function. However, shoulder strength cannot improve without surgery.
Nonsurgical Treatment Options May Include:

  • Resting the shoulder and limiting physical activities. A sling may be required to help protect the shoulder.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can reduce pain and swelling.
  • Physical therapy can restore movement and strengthen the shoulder by improving flexibility and range of motion.
  • If rest, medication and physical therapy do not relieve pain, an injection of a local anesthetic and a cortisone preparation may help.

If all other treatments fail, surgery may be required. This involves re-attaching the tendon to the head of the humerus.

Signs that surgery may be a good option for you include:

  • Symptoms lasting 6 to 12 months
  • A tear larger than 3 centimeters
  • Significant weakness and loss of function in the shoulder
  • If the tear was caused by a recent, acute injury

S U R G I C A L   T R E A T M E N T S

All-Arthroscopic Repair
Our specialists prefer to use arthroscopic repair. This technique is highly effective with minimal pain and scarring. During arthroscopy, our specialist inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and allows our specialist to perform the entire surgery without the need for any large incisions. Normally, all-arthroscopic repair is an outpatient procedure and is the least invasive type of surgery.

Our doctors are Orthopedic Surgeons specializing in minimally invasive, arthroscopic surgery – should you require surgical intervention. Although surgery could alleviate your pain, our doctors will do their best to avoid surgical intervention as many injuries can be treated through conservative measures such as medication and rehabilitation therapy.

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