Rotator Cuff Tear Santa Rosa, CA
If you’ve played a lot of baseball or softball, or were a competitive volleyball or tennis player, you’ve either had issues with your rotator cuff or you know someone who has. Repetitive motions, such as throwing a ball, place a lot of wear and tear on this area of the shoulder and tears are common. At Redwood Orthopaedic Surgery Associates in Santa Rosa, CA, we perform rotator cuff surgery to repair rotator cuff tears and similar injuries.
What is the rotator cuff?
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and their tendons that connect the upper arm, the humerus, to the shoulder blade, the scapula, and allow the shoulder to move. The rotator cuff seats the head of the humerus into the shoulder socket, making possible a whole range of complicated arm movements that would otherwise cause the humeral head to dislodge from the socket.
What is a rotator cuff tear?
The function of the rotator cuff is to pull and maintain the ball of the humerus into the center of the shoulder joint. Of the four muscles that make up the rotator cuff, the muscle that attaches to the top of the humerus, the supraspinatus, is the most prone to injury as it receives the most stress of the entire cuff. When one of the rotator cuff tendons tears, the tendon no longer is completely attached to the head of the humerus.
There are different degrees of rotator cuff damage or tears:
- Grade 1 — This stretches the fibers without a physical tear. A strain.
- Grade 2 — This is a partial tear, but the tendon is not completely severed.
- Grade 3 — This is a full-thickness tear that creates a hole through the tendon, splitting the soft tissue into two pieces.
What causes a rotator cuff tear?
The rotator cuff can tear through an acute injury, such as putting your arm out to break a fall, from shoulder dislocation, or from excessive stress when lifting a heavy object with a jerking motion.
More often, tears are the result of ongoing degeneration from these causes:
- Repetitive use — Sports such as baseball, softball, tennis, volleyball, rowing, swimming, and weightlifting involve repetitive shoulder motions where your arm is above your head. These stress the rotator cuff. Also, jobs such as painting and carpentry produce the same stresses.
- Age — Rotator cuff tears are most common in people over 40. Over time, the tendons in the rotator cuff are slightly damaged (but not torn) and repair themselves, but as we age the blood supply to the areas decreases, lessening the repair function.
- Weaker muscles and poor posture — Sedentary lifestyles and chronic poor posture increase the chances of cuff tears.
- Bone spurs — Bone spurs can develop on the underside of the acromion bone (part of the scapula), especially in arthritis sufferers. When the arm is lifted these spurs rub on the rotator cuff’s supraspinatus tendon and weaken it over time.
What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear?
If you have a tear in your rotator cuff, you will have persistent pain, tenderness, weakness, and you won’t be able to move your shoulder through a full range of motion. The most pain will accompany movements such as reaching directly above your head, reaching behind your back, and during lifting motions involving your shoulder. Something like combing your hair will become very painful. Over time, you will feel pain even when the shoulder is at rest, particularly when lying on your side in bed.
Acute tears are intensely painful and can be accompanied by a snapping sensation if the tendon has fully ruptured.