The rotator cuff is made up of a tendon linking four muscles that attach the arm to the shoulder. A tear to one or more of the four muscles of the rotator cuff is among the most common conditions affecting the shoulder. These types of tears more often are seen in people over the age of 40 who do repetitive overhead work such as construction workers and painters. They can also result from an injury such as a fracture or dislocation to the shoulder. When a rotator cuff tear occurs in younger patients it is usually the result of acute trauma, repetitive overhead work or sports activity. Athletes who participate in sports requiring extensive overhead activity such as baseball pitchers, tennis players, and swimmers are also prone to develop a tear.
Treatment Options for Rotator Cuff Tear
- Anti-inflammatory Medication – Dr. Hecht may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication for a period of time to calm/lessen the pain caused by the inflammation.
- Corticosteroid Injections Occasionally a cortisone injection is used to locally treat the inflammation. Dr. Hecht will discuss the risks and benefits of cortisone injections with you.
- Surgery If non-operative treatments fail to relieve the symptoms, surgery can be performed. An arthroscopic approach is typically used. During surgery, the rotator cuff tear is identified and repaired back to the insertion point on the arm bone with special implants. Many times this is done in conjunction with other shoulder procedures.
- Strengthening exercise and PT after surgery A successful outcome with surgery is dependent upon a dedicated and supervised rehabilitation program. Patients are referred to physical therapy where they work one-on-one with a licensed physical therapist 2-3 times/week to regain range of motion, strength, and the ability to perform desired activities. The overall length of physical therapy varies depending on the procedures performed.
Why Dr. Joseph Hecht?
Dr. Hecht is board certified in orthopedic surgery, providing expert knowledge and expertise in the area of shoulder conditions and treatment options. As one of the top Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland shoulder surgeons, Dr. Hecht brings years of valuable experience to every shoulder assessment.
Tips for Healthy Shoulders
- To avoid experiencing shoulder pain, patients should keep physically fit with a balanced program of aerobics, stretching and strengthening all body parts to help to prevent shoulder injuries. If you think you have injured your shoulder, consult a board-certified Orthopaedic physician or physical therapist before starting an exercise program. Here are some specific tips for the shoulders:
- Apply heat to shoulder muscles before exercise. Heat prepares muscles and tendons for exercise.
- Keep your arm below shoulder height while doing stretches for the shoulder.
- Gradually increase movements—big circles, across-body movements, trunk twists, shoulder blade rolls and forward and backward squeezes—during shoulder warm-up.
- Pendulum stretching exercises relieve pressure on the rotator cuff. While sitting or standing, keep arm vertical and close to the body. Allow arm to swing back and forth in a small diameter (about 1 inch). As symptoms improve, the diameter of swing may be increased. Initially perform the exercise with just the weight of your arm. As shoulder pain improves, progressively add more weight—5 to 10 pounds (a filled gallon container weighs 8 pounds). Perform exercise for 5 minutes once or twice a day.
- Muscle-strengthening exercises can be performed about 1 to 2 weeks after doing pendulum stretching exercises. Use elastic exercise bands for a variety of arm exercises. For example, attach band to a doorknob. Then hold your elbow close to your side at a 90 degree angle, grasp the band and pull toward your waist. Hold for 5 seconds. Do 15 to 20 repetitions each day.