Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common orthopedic injuries that we see in our practice. It is much more common in patients over the age of 45 years old.
The rotator cuff is made up of 4 tendons that attach to the humerus. When one or more of the tendons becomes torn it can either be partial or fully torn. A partial tear can be frayed or involve a high percentage of the tendon. Full thickness tears cause the tendon to be completely severed.
The most common symptoms include:
- Nighttime pain
- Inability to raise the arm overhead
- Weakness lifting the arm forward and to the side
If symptoms are causing shoulder pain, loss of motion and weakness then your physician will examine your shoulder to determine what should be done. If there is concern for a torn rotator cuff then an MRI is the best imaging study. It is able to show the rotator cuff and determine the extent of the tear.
Not all rotator cuff tears need surgery. Most patients can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Those tears which are determined to better treated with surgery can be done as an out patient with minimally invasive techniques.