You use your arms and shoulders more than you probably think. Whether it’s reaching up to hang a picture, carrying groceries, or swimming, your shoulders are important to your everyday life. However, because you use them so much, when an injury strikes, it leaves you feeling pretty helpless, especially when it’s a rotator cuff problem.
At Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, our team specializes in all kinds of orthopedic problems, including rotator cuff injuries. Our orthopedic surgeon, Dr. R. Douglas Bostick III, specializes in shoulder treatments, including rotator cuff surgery when necessary. If you have a shoulder injury, Dr. Bostick has a treatment plan for you.
Common rotator cuff problems
Your shoulder joint is made up of several different components, like muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Your rotator cuff is located in your shoulder, and helps to keep your arm secured in your shoulder joint. It’s made up of four muscles and their tendons.
The rotator cuff includes the:
- Supraspinatus muscle and tendon
- Infraspinatus muscle and tendon
- Teres minor muscle and tendon
- Subscapularis muscle and tendon
The four muscles work together to help you move your shoulder in a variety of directions. As you can imagine, if one or more of these muscles become damaged or injured, it affects your ability to move your arm.
Rotator cuff problems are actually pretty common, and factors include:
- Bone spurs
- Impingement syndrome
- Partial cuff tears
- Full-thickness cuff tears
Rotator cuff tears are the most well-known type of injury. Small tears may not cause you a lot of pain or trouble, but they can get worse over time. Larger tears usually cause more problems, including decreased range of motion in your joint. Knowing the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury helps you get treatment before it gets worse.
Rotator cuff injury symptoms
Symptoms of an injury vary, depending on the cause and severity of the problem. For example, rotator cuff injuries aren’t always acute in nature. Sometimes they’re due to overuse and take months or years to show symptoms.
A rotator cuff injury can be sharp pain or a dull ache in your shoulder. There are other symptoms that you’re likely to experience with this type of injury, including:
- Decreased range of motion
- Trouble sleeping on your shoulder
- Weakness in the shoulder
- Pain that gets worse at night
- Difficulty reaching overhead
You may also notice that you’re avoiding certain activities or movements of your arm because they cause shoulder pain or discomfort. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may also struggle with reaching behind you or moving your arms away from your body.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms for longer than a week, and it’s not getting better with at-home treatment, you shouldn’t wait to book an appointment with Dr. Bostick.
What treatments are available?
The type of treatment Dr. Bostick recommends depends on the severity of your injury and how much it’s affecting your daily activities. For instance, if you’ve only suffered a minor injury, he may recommend conservative treatments, such as:
- Activity modification
- Ice or heat
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
He may also recommend injection treatments to help decrease inflammation and pain in your shoulder.
However, if your rotator cuff issue is affecting your daily activities and conservative treatments haven’t helped, Dr. Bostick may ultimately recommend rotator cuff surgery. Rotator cuff injuries are typically repaired using either minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery or open surgery. Dr. Bostick treats most rotator cuff tears with the arthroscopic approach.
Arthroscopic surgery is performed under anesthesia using a specialized instrument called an arthroscope. It has a tiny camera and light at the end, which allows Dr. Bostick to see inside your shoulder joint without the need for a large incision.
Once Dr. Bostick finds the injury, he uses tiny specialized instruments to fix your rotator cuff tear. Minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery is beneficial because it involves smaller incisions and a shorter recovery period.
If you think you’ve suffered a rotator cuff injury and need treatment for ongoing shoulder pain, call our office in Metairie, Louisiana, or you can book an appointment online right now.