Repairing An Injured Shoulder

Understanding the shoulder’s anatomy is essential to comprehend how a rotator cuff injury occurs. The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint, which means that the upper arm bone fits into a socket in the shoulder blade. A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that attach to the shoulder blade and the upper arm bone. This group of muscles and tendons helps to hold the shoulder joint in place and allows for movement in the shoulder. Rotator cuff injuries are common, especially in sports, and can require surgery for long-term pain relief.


What causes rotator cuff injuries?

As an athlete or person who enjoys participating in sports, sustaining an injury can be common. An area of the body frequently injured during sports activities is the shoulder, specifically the rotator cuff. Repetitive overhead arm motion, such as throwing a baseball, swimming, or weightlifting, is a common cause of rotator cuff injuries. Some injuries happen due to sudden trauma, such as falling on an outstretched arm during a game or lifting a heavy object. The injury often leads to immediate pain, swelling, and shoulder weakness.

Time for treatment

The specific treatment for a rotator cuff injury depends on the severity of the damage. In some cases, rest, ice, and physical therapy (PT) may be enough to relieve pain and restore mobility. Surgery may be necessary when conservative treatments fail to alleviate the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury. Surgery can repair the torn tendon and restore the shoulder’s range of motion (ROM) and strength. Open surgery and arthroscopic surgery are 2 common approaches for repairing a rotator cuff injury.

Open vs minimally invasive

When a repair is required, patients typically have 2 surgical options to choose from. Open surgery is a more traditional approach involving a large incision to access the torn tendon. This approach is typically used for larger or more complex tears. The surgeon will reattach the tendon to the bone during the surgery using sutures or anchors. Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgical approach involving smaller incisions and a tiny camera to guide the surgeon’s instruments. This type of procedure is typically used for more minor or less complex tears. During the surgery, the surgeon will use small tools to reattach the tendon to the bone.

Navigating recovery after surgery

For most people, recovery from rotator cuff surgery can take several months. Following the rehabilitation program prescribed by the surgeon and physical therapist is essential. Rehab may include ROM exercises, strengthening activities, and heat or ice therapy modalities. Patients should note that returning to sports or other activities too soon after surgery can increase the risk of re-injury.

An effective long-term solution

Rotator cuff injuries are common in people who play sports and participate in physical activities. While conservative treatments can be effective, surgery may be necessary to repair the torn tendon and restore the shoulder’s strength and range of motion. If a tear is suspected, seek medical attention and carefully follow the doctor’s instructions during treatment and recovery. Understanding the causes and symptoms of rotator cuff injuries and the available surgical options can help athletes make informed decisions about treatment and recovery.

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