Understanding and Treating Rotator Cuff Tears

Marc J. Rogers, D.O. 

The shoulder is a complex ball-and-socket joint that allows for great movement and flexibility. However, due to its complexity, it is susceptible to various injuries in individuals of all ages. Injuries to the shoulder region can lead to pain, swelling and decreased range of motion. 

While some shoulder injuries have a clear cause, such as a swift swing of the golf club, others may remain unexplained, possibly due to degenerative conditions. An orthopaedic specialist like Dr. Marc Rogers at The Orthopaedic Institute can provide a comprehensive assessment to determine the exact cause of your shoulder pain and develop a personalized treatment plan.

Who can suffer a rotator cuff injury?

The complexity of the shoulder joint makes it prone to injury, especially if one forgets to stretch or warm up before engaging in physical activity. Rotator cuff tears are among the most common shoulder injuries and can happen in young athletes and older individuals alike. To prevent injury, Dr. Rogers encourages patients to strengthen the shoulder and its surrounding muscle groups. It is also important to stretch and warm up before golfing, swimming, or other activities. In some cases, the shoulder may have suffered a small, partial tear, and one bad golf swing can cause a major injury. 

The rotator cuff is also prone to degenerative injuries. As we age, our tendons get thinner and less flexible, making them prone to tears. Due to its position in the shoulder and frequent movement, the rotator cuff may tear when lifting something heavy or engaging in an activity you are not used to. 

How can shoulder injuries be prevented? 

The best way to prevent shoulder injuries, including rotator cuff tears, is to stretch before and after physical activity — this goes for both young and mature patients alike! The shoulder is a versatile joint that we use for a plethora of daily and leisure activities. Swimming, golfing and even fishing all use the rotator cuff. If you want to prevent injury and keep doing the things you love, take 15 minutes to stretch before these activities. 

If you’re getting back into an activity after a few months of hiatus, Dr. Rogers says it is smart to ease back into it slowly. Give your shoulders and the rest of your body time to get used to the movements, ensuring a safer, more enjoyable experience. 

How are rotator cuff tears treated?

Accidents happen, no matter how careful we are. If you tear a rotator cuff, there are a variety of treatment options to get you back on your game.

When a patient visits The Orthopaedic Institute for shoulder pain and suspects a rotator cuff injury, we always begin with a brief history and comprehensive shoulder examination. History is key to calculating the precise cause of the injury, while the exam allows us to determine its severity. 

Minor or acute shoulder cuff tears can be treated with rest, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication. More severe tears may require medical intervention through arthroscopic procedures, which are minimally-invasive operations that repair the injured shoulder. 

When should I see an orthopaedic specialist? 

If you’ve been experiencing unexplained shoulder pain that lasts longer than 6 weeks or major shoulder pain due to a recent injury, it is time to see an orthopaedic specialist. At The Orthopaedic Institute, we take a comprehensive approach to your shoulder pain, assessing its cause and developing a personalized treatment plan to get you moving. 

Our physicians value communication with their patients to help deliver the highest level of quality care. Helping to heal complex shoulder injuries is one of our commitments for your health. 

Dr. Rogers finds healing injured shoulders to be a gratifying process, helping patients regain function of their arm so they can go back to doing what they love! 

To learn more or request an appointment, contact us today!