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.
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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.
How is a torn rotator cuff treated?
While there are multiple ways to treat a torn rotator cuff, such as pain medication, physical therapy, the RICE method, and steroids, there are some cases where torn rotator cuffs may need surgery to be fully repaired.
Torn rotator cuff surgery involves the re-attachment of the torn tendon to the humerus. However, if a patient is suffering from a partial tear, a trimming method called debridement may be used to repair it. A full tear in the tendon will have to be stitched back onto the humerus. This procedure can take anywhere between two to two and a half hours.
What is recovery like after torn rotator cuff surgery?
For mild rotator cuff tears or sprains, healing may take up to four weeks. However, when a tear is much more serious, and surgery is needed, it can take up to six to twelve months to fully recover. This is because the repaired area is incredibly delicate during healing, and recovery treatments such as physical therapy may take prolonged periods of time to bring your upper arm back to its normal function again. The goal of rotator cuff surgery is to repair the tear, and the goal of a successful recovery is to gain back full motion and strength. Because of this, patients should know recovery will be a commitment but not impossible.
While discomfort and pain may be felt for up to six months after your surgery, this is a natural side effect of treatment. With the right support system and by following the aftercare guidelines and treatments as recommended by your doctor, patients should not experience any complications during their recovery period.
Are there any risks with a torn rotator cuff treatment?
Just like with any other surgery, there are risks to rotator cuff surgery that patients should be aware of. Besides common side effects such as pain when moving, swelling, or tenderness (which should all slowly subside within a few weeks of recovery), there are more serious risks that can come with this treatment. They include:
- Complications with anesthesia
- Nerve injury
- Risk of a blood clot
- Risk of stroke
Despite these risks, the board-certified surgeons at Redwood Orthopaedic Associates provide high-quality patient care to those looking for a full restoration and approach each procedure with the utmost attention to detail while prioritizing patient comfort and safety. As long as their recommended recovery treatments are followed, patients can easily avoid these risks.
Repairing a torn rotator cuff may take some time, but the surgery often proves life-changing, as many patients no longer have to deal with the pain and limitations that come from a torn shoulder.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are interested in learning more about our rotator cuff surgery, contact us today by clicking here to schedule your first consultation. Redwood Orthopaedic Surgery Associates proudly provides patients from Santa Rosa, CA, and the surrounding areas with treatment for Rotator Cuff Tear. For more information, call (707) 544-3400.