Dr. Leon Popovitz discusses the symptoms, causes, and treatments of one of the most common injuries: rotator cuff tears.
Torn rotator cuffs are among the most common injuries we see at New York Bone & Joint. The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons that connect the upper arm bone to the socket of the shoulder joint. These tendons provide the arm with much of its range of motion.
Unsurprisingly, torn rotator cuffs can be quite debilitating, largely preventing patients from functioning as normal. Our own Dr. Leon Popovitz discusses the causes of the injury, and how it can be treated.
What Causes a Rotator Cuff Tear?
A torn rotator cuff can have a gradual or traumatic cause. In some cases, the tendons are worn down over time before ultimately tearing. These tears often result from overuse, but they’re sometimes the product of a bone spur.
In other cases, rotator cuff tears are caused by sudden trauma to the shoulder, such as a fall at work or a sports injury. Repeated overhead throwing can also result in a sudden tear in the rotator cuff, making it a somewhat common injury among baseball and tennis players.
How Are Rotator Cuff Tears Treated?
Treatment for a torn rotator cuff depends on the particular cause and extent of the injury. Non-traumatic tears are most often treated non-surgically, with a combination of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, steroid or cortisone injections, and a physical therapy program designed to prevent stiffness, rebuild muscle strength, and restore a full range of motion to the shoulder. This conservative course of treatment can lead to a significant recovery in as little as six weeks, though complete recovery might not follow for another several months.
Some rotator cuff tears, however, are best treated with surgery. Most can be repaired with minimally invasive shoulder arthroscopy. During the procedure, your surgeon will make several small incisions into the shoulder, view the tendons with a narrow telescope outfitted with micro-instruments, mend any tears, and remove bone spurs or other irritants.
Patients will need to keep their arm in a sling for up to a month after surgery before beginning physical therapy. Most patients can expect a complete recovery after five to six months of rehabilitation.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can read more about rotator cuff tears here. If you’re suffering from shoulder pain and worry you may have torn your rotator cuff, our team at New York Bone & Joint can help. Our own Dr. Popovitz is an internationally recognized specialist in arthroscopic shoulder surgery, and can use his experience and expertise to craft a personalized recovery plan for you. Call today to schedule a consultation.