Rotator Cuff Tears in Atlanta, GA

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What is a  Rotator Cuff Tear?

The rotator cuff includes a group of tendons and muscles that are linked and surround the shoulder joint. Their main purpose is to maintain the stability of the upper arm to the shoulder socket and keep it in place. When an injury occurs to the rotator cuff and causes a tear, it may vary in severity and require immediate medical attention. Typically the result of an injury or traumatic event, a rotator cuff tear can result in a variety of symptoms that can make everyday tasks difficult to perform. Most individuals who have a rotator cuff injury often complain of a dull ache that worsens over time, and the injury makes everyday tasks and functions difficult. At Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, Dr. Christopher Williams provides optimal treatment options for individuals who have experienced a rotator cuff tear. Learn more about the available treatments by contacting our Atlanta, GA facility to schedule your initial consultation. 

What are the Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear?

One of the most common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear is a constant, deep ache in the shoulder. Additional symptoms and side effects can also include:

  • Difficulty sleeping, especially when lying on the injured shoulder
  • Arm weakness
  • Numbness
  • Occasional sharp pains
  • Difficulty raising your arm above your head

Prior to recommending any form of treatment for a rotator cuff tear, Dr. Williams will evaluate your current symptoms and medical history to determine the best procedure to allow you to receive optimal results. 

What Causes Rotator Cuff Tears?

A rotator cuff tear can be caused by a significant injury or traumatic injury or be due to the everyday wear and tear on the area. Repetitive movements can also contribute to a rotator cuff tear. Additional risk factors may include age, participating in sports activities, construction jobs, and having a family history of rotator cuff injuries. The best way to prevent further rotator cuff injuries is to perform exercises to strengthen the shoulder, as well as the back muscles. After determining the exact cause of your rotator cuff tear, Dr. Williams will provide you with any necessary tips and recommendations to prevent future injuries to the area. 

What Are the Risk Factors of Rotator Cuff Tears?

Rotator cuff tears are a common source of pain and disability among adults, affecting a key group of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder. These injuries can result from a variety of factors, ranging from acute incidents to chronic degeneration and the following:

  • Age: The risk increases significantly in individuals over 40, as tendons naturally weaken and degrade with age
  • Repetitive Stress: Frequent overhead activities, common in sports like baseball or jobs such as painting, can strain the rotator cuff muscles over time
  • Occupational Hazards: Jobs that require heavy lifting or repetitive arm movements can increase the risk of tears
  • Family History: Genetics can play a role, making some individuals more susceptible to this type of injury
  • Poor Posture: Long-term poor posture can lead to muscle imbalances around the shoulder and increase wear on the rotator cuff
  • Previous Injuries: A history of shoulder injuries can predispose an individual to further damage, including tears
  • Lack of Exercise/Weak Muscles: Insufficient strength in the rotator cuff and surrounding muscles can increase vulnerability to injury

How Are Rotator Cuff Tears Diagnosed?

Rotator cuff tears are diagnosed through a combination of patient history, physical examination, and imaging tests, ensuring a thorough evaluation of the shoulder's condition. Initially, Dr. Williams will review your symptoms and medical history to understand the extent of your injury. This is followed by a physical exam to assess shoulder strength and range of motion. Imaging tests, such as MRI or ultrasound, are often utilized to confirm the diagnosis by providing detailed images of the rotator cuff. This comprehensive approach allows Dr. Williams to accurately diagnose rotator cuff tears and recommend the most effective treatment options for patients.

how do you treat a rotator cuff tear?

In some cases, conservative methods are all that is necessary to treat a rotator cuff tear. This could include rest, ice, physical therapy, or anti-inflammatory medication. If none of these alleviate your symptoms, Dr. Williams may then suggest steroid injections into the affected shoulder to help provide pain relief. In more severe cases of a rotator cuff tear, surgery may be the only available option for eliminating painful symptoms. After your thorough consultation, Dr. Williams will explain all of your available treatment options to you and let you know what you can expect throughout the treatment process.

Rotator Cuff Tears FAQ

What happens if a torn rotator cuff goes untreated?
Without professional treatment, your pain can worsen, and you may have difficulties with your range of motion and strength. This could impact your ability to perform daily activities, which may prevent you from living a good quality of life. In severe cases, a torn rotator cuff could cause you to lose your ability to move your shoulder permanently.

Does a torn rotator cuff hurt all the time?
Patients often feel rotator cuff pain during the night or with specific movements. Sometimes, the pain is so severe that it wakes you up. If not treated with medicine, rest, or physical therapy, you run the risk of more severe symptoms.

Can a rotator cuff tear heal on its own?
Most rotator cuff muscles cannot heal by themselves. However, you can improve the function without necessarily needing surgery through options, like medications, rest, or physical therapy. Patients who use their jobs to lift things overhead or participate in sports may require more advanced options, such as surgery.

Will my rotator cuff tear get worse over time?
Yes, without treatment, the tear can worsen over time. This is often accompanied by increased pain and further restriction in shoulder mobility. The extent of worsening can depend on factors like the initial size of the tear, your age, and the level of physical activity you engage in.

Can I prevent a rotator cuff tear?
While you can't completely eliminate the risk, you can certainly take steps to minimize it. Regularly exercising to strengthen shoulder muscles, maintaining good posture, and avoiding excessive, repetitive overhead activities can help. It's also important to listen to your body and rest your shoulder if you feel any persistent pain or discomfort.

Find Relief Today

A rotator cuff tear can greatly affect your ability to perform everyday tasks, leading to pain and difficulty sleeping. At our Atlanta, GA facility, Dr. Christopher Williams can diagnose and treat rotator cuff tears to allow you to live more comfortably. Contact Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta to learn more and to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Williams.

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