Rotator Cuff Tear in Miami, FL

The Advanced Neuro and Spine Institute specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of orthopedic conditions and diseases such as a rotator cuff tear. Our team of experts delivers the latest advances in personalized, comprehensive care to patients in our conveniently located clinics in Aventura, Kendall, Hialeah, and Fort Lauderdale.

What is a Rotator Cuff Tear?

A rotator cuff tear is a common condition, causing pain and limiting mobility in the shoulder. A torn rotator cuff weakens the shoulder, making many mundane, daily activities extremely painful and difficult, such as dressing and combing your hair.

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, made up of three bones: the humerus, or upper arm bone; the scapula, or shoulder blade; and the clavicle, or collarbone. The head of the humerus fits into a shallow socket in the shoulder blade, allowing the arm to rotate. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles, which combine as tendons to form a sheath around the head of the humerus. The rotator cuff attaches the arm to the shoulder socket and assists in lifting and rotating the arm.

The bursa is a small jelly-like sac surrounding the rotator cuff, helping the rotator cuff tendons to glide freely during lifting or arm rotation. When there is damage to the rotator cuff tendons, this bursa may also become painful and inflamed.

What are the Causes and Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tears?

Rotator cuff tears have two primary causes: injury and degeneration. It is possible to tear your rotator cuff by falling down on your outstretched arm, or lifting something too heavy with a jerking motion. Rotator cuff tears can occur as part of other, more complex shoulder injuries, such as a broken collarbone or dislocated shoulder.

Most rotator cuff tears are caused by a gradual degeneration of the tendon, occurring naturally as we age, indicative of a substantially higher risk of this injury for those over 40. Rotator cuff tears typically occur first in the dominant arm, although patients with a degenerative rotator cuff tear in one shoulder increase their risk for a rotator cuff tear in the opposite shoulder, even when there is no pain in that shoulder.

Several factors cause degenerative rotator cuff tears, including:

  • Repetitive stress from sports, such as baseball, tennis, rowing, and weightlifting. Certain occupations and routine household chores that involve the repetitive overhead extension of the arm can also cause degenerative rotator cuff tears.
  • Reduced blood supply to the joint that occurs as we age, reducing the body’s natural ability to repair tendon damage.
  • Bone spurs, or excess bone growth in the shoulder area, may contribute to rotator cuff tears.

Although degenerative tears, caused by repetitive stress, also occur in younger people, most tears in young adults are caused by a traumatic injury, such as a fall or accident.

Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear typically include:

  • Pain when lying on the affected shoulder.
  • Pain when lifting and lowering the arm.
  • Discomfort, or limited range of motion, when lifting or rotating your arm.
  • A crackling sensation inside the shoulder, when rotating your arm.

Tears that occur from sudden injuries, such as a fall, usually cause intense and immediate pain. There may also be a snapping sensation, immediate weakness, and inflammation in the upper arm.

Degenerative tears that develop from overuse can also cause pain and weakness in the arm, along with limited mobility. You may experience shoulder pain when you lift your arm or pain that shoots down the arm. Initially, the pain may be mild and only accompany certain movements, although this condition typically worsens over time.

How is a Rotator Cuff Tear Treated?

As a rotator cuff tear can increase in size, it is important to start treatment early. In about 50% of patients, non-surgical treatment, such as rest, medications, lifestyle modification, and physical therapy focused on strengthening exercises, successfully relieve pain and restore functionality to the shoulder. To restore full strength to the shoulder, however, surgery is usually required.

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If you would like more information on rotator cuff treatment, please contact one of our conveniently located clinics in Aventura, Kendall, Hialeah, and Fort Lauderdale.

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