The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons and muscles that converge around the shoulder joint at the top of the humerus, the upper arm bone above the elbow. Together, they form a ’’cuff’’ that both holds your arm in place and allows it to move in different directions. While your shoulder is one of your most mobile joints, it’s also somewhat weak. Too much stress -- or too many fastballs -- can cause partial tears and swelling in the tendons of the rotator cuff. Abrupt stress may even cause one of the tendons to pull away from the bone or tear in the middle of the tendon. Rotator cuff tears are sometimes incorrectly called ’’rotary cuff tears.’’
Athletes prone to getting rotator cuff tears include:
You can get a rotator cuff tear by:
The symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include:
Most rotator cuff tears develop gradually. But they also can happen suddenly -- you might feel a pop, intense pain, and weakness in the arm.
To diagnose a rotator cuff tear, your doctor will give you a thorough physical exam. He or she will want you to move your arm in different directions to see what causes pain. In addition, your doctor might want to order the following tests:
These tests will allow your doctor to rule out other conditions and confirm that you have a rotator cuff tear. He or she may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for treatment.
As bad as these injuries can be, the good news is that many rotator cuff tears heal on their own. You just need to give them a little time. You also should:
More serious rotator cuff tears require surgery. One procedure is shoulder arthroscopy, usually an outpatient procedure. During an arthroscopy, the patient is put to sleep with general anesthesia. A small camera is inserted into the shoulder to see and repair the rotator cuff tear. If the tear is very large or involves more than one tendon, a small incision may be needed. Following arthroscopy, the arm will likely be in a sling for two to three weeks and physical therapy will be prescribed.
What a lot of athletes really want to know is when they can get back in the game after a rotator cuff tear. But it’s hard to say. Recovery time depends on how serious the tear is. It may take weeks or months. People heal at different rates. Obviously, if you need surgery, recovery will take longer.
But whatever you do, don’t rush things. Do not resume the activity that caused your injury until:
Athletes should ease back into their sport. For instance, if you got a rotator cuff tear from throwing, don’t start off by pitching fastballs. Do more gentle tossing until you get your strength back.
The best way to prevent future rotator cuff tears is to keep your shoulder muscles strong. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about exercises that will help.
The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
sources include: WebMD
OrthoWashington in Kirkland, WA is a premiere orthopedic practice and surgery center with surgeons and doctors serving patients in the greater Bellevue and Seattle areas.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this website.
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