Your rotator cuff is a significant part of your shoulder joint that allows you to move your arm in specific ways. For this reason, a rotator cuff tear sets you back significantly, especially when you live an active life.
A rotator cuff tear is a problematic injury, but treatment and complete healing are possible. Our Spine and Orthopedic Center of New Mexico team provides specialized treatments to patients in the Roswell, New Mexico, community.
Dr. Omar Osmani is our orthopedic surgeon who provides customized treatments when you suffer a rotator cuff injury or any other orthopedic issue.
What's your rotator cuff?
Your rotator cuff is an essential part of your shoulder joint that allows you to lift and move your arm. Its other job is to stabilize the head of your upper arm bone (humerus) to keep it in the socket of your shoulder joint.
Four muscles make up your rotator cuff to provide stability in your shoulder. These muscles originate from your shoulder blade and attach with tendons to your upper arm bone. The four muscles are:
- Teres minor
One or all of the tendons that attach the muscles to your bone can tear when you have a rotator cuff injury; the more tendons involved, the more severe the rotator cuff injury.
You can have a partial tear, where the tendons are still partially attached to your upper arm bone, or a complete tear, where the tendons are no longer attached to your arm bone.
Signs of a rotator cuff tear
The symptoms of a rotator cuff tear vary greatly, depending on the severity of the tear and if other structures in your joint are involved. Partial tears usually have less severe symptoms than complete tears.
You may also have more significant symptoms when you suffer an acute tear than someone with a degenerative rotator cuff tear. Sudden tears cause severe pain and arm weakness on the affected side. Other symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include:
- Trouble raising your arm
- Pain with movement
- Difficulty lifting objects
- Popping sensations with shoulder movement
- Pain that's more severe at night or rest
Degenerative rotator cuff tears come on slowly, and the symptoms are often mild. However, as the tear worsens, so do your symptoms. You might experience some relief with over-the-counter pain medicines when you have a degenerative tear.
Can your injury heal by itself?
Unfortunately, a rotator cuff tear won't heal by itself. However, that doesn't mean you necessarily need surgery for a rotator cuff injury.
Sometimes, you can improve your rotator cuff tear with conservative methods. Our Spine and Orthopedic Center of New Mexico Team evaluates your injury to determine which treatment is best for you.
Nonsurgical treatments for mild-to-moderate rotator cuff tears include physical therapy, steroid injections into your joint, and anti-inflammatory medications. Our team often recommends these therapies in conjunction with activity modifications to allow your injury to improve.
In many cases, you can regain movement and strength in your shoulder with conservative measures. These treatments aim to reduce your pain and allow you to restore functionality in your shoulder.
However, if you're highly active or use your shoulders a lot for work, you may need surgery to repair your rotator cuff tear. Our team evaluates your lifestyle, symptoms, and MRI results to determine if surgery is the correct treatment for your injury.
When you have shoulder pain that you're concerned about, call our office in Roswell at 575-623-9101 or book an appointment on our website using our convenient scheduling tool.