A rotator cuff tear is a common injury suffered by many and it causes pain and disability among adults. It will not only weaken your shoulder but will also hinder your day to day activities, such as wearing your clothes, brushing your teeth and combing your hair. The rotator cuff is a group of tendons that are joined together, surrounding the front, back and top of your shoulder joint connected to each other. When one or more muscles are torn, the tendons are detached from the humerus and they start to fray. As time passes, the tendon can entirely tear either on its own or during activities that exert huge load on the shoulders.
The most common symptom experienced by many is aching at the top and front of the shoulder. The pain is significantly higher when the arm is lifted overhead. Often, the patient is unable to have a good rest at night as the pain gets worse at night. Some patients may experience weakness in the injured arm and in a worst case scenario; the entire arm cannot be lifted at all.
When patients experience inability to lift their arm above their shoulder, it is normally due to their supraspinatus tendon rubbing against the under portion of their shoulder blade known as the Acromium. It can be acute and it can also be a gradual pain depending on the initial injury. Swelling and inflammation will be observed and the muscles in the rotator cuff will be weakened as a result.
Overuse of the shoulder causes bursitis or tendonitis which is also known as impingement. Impingement will cause the tissues below the acromioclavicular joint to be rubbing against the bone, causing irritation and pain. Normally the doctor will prescribe pain killers or cortisone injections. However if all fails, an arthroscopic acromioplasty or shoulder acromioplasty will be carried out.
As the surface of our acromion can be mis-shaped, bone spurs might develop. By jutting further down when the tendons are, it will cause much pain too the patient in the injured shoulder. The surgeon can reshape the acromion through arthroscopy, a minimal invasive surgery method or through open shoulder surgery.
Gentle exercises to obtain back full range of motion will start the day after the surgery and patients are advised to stop using the arm sling in the shortest possible time. The sutures will be removed a week after surgery and strengthening exercise will be taught to them. It will take approximately 3 months for the shoulder to recover fully.