Rotator Cuff Repair

Rotator Cuff Problems

A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that originate from the shoulder blade and attach to the upper proportion of the arm. These muscles working in conjunction with the larger, more powerful muscles including the deltoid, pectoralis and trapezius are responsible for starting and guiding shoulder movement. In athletes, the delicate balance between strength and mobility must exist for proper shoulder function. Initial treatment following rotator cuff injury begins with rest, intermittent icing and anti-inflammatory medications. If the discomfort persists for a considerable period of time, an evaluation by an experienced physician may be required.

Physical therapy exercises aimed at restoring rotator cuff function are often initiated. In uncommon cases, surgery may be necessary. Prevention is really the best medicine. Proper pre-season conditioning of the shoulder muscles and avoiding abrupt changes in the frequency or intensity of training can help rotator cuff injuries.

Older athletes may be at slightly greater risk of rotator cuff injuries. There is also a slightly higher chance of having pain in the rotator cuff due to impingement by the surrounding bony structures. They may also be more likely to develop rotator cuff tears.

In these athletes, physiotherapy and medical treatment in the form of medications and possibly shoulder injections are still the mainstays of treatment. Some athletes who do not fully respond to these measures may require surgery. If surgery is required, the operation may be performed through a small incision over the top of the shoulder or may be performed using arthroscopy (minimally invasive) surgery. Often the type of surgery chosen would be dependant on the degree of injury to the rotator cuff.

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