Rotator Cuff Tear

Premier Orthopedic Specialists of Tulsa

Orthopedic Surgery located in Tulsa, OK

Your rotator cuff has four muscles that enable you to move your shoulder in many directions. If it tears, you could experience severe shoulder pain and loss of use. James Cash, MD, of Premier Orthopedic Specialists of Tulsa, is a high-quality, fellowship-trained surgeon who’s performed thousands of successful arthroscopic procedures, including rotator cuff tear repairs. For prompt, expert treatment of your rotator cuff tear, call the office in Tulsa, Oklahoma, or book an appointment online today.

Rotator Cuff Tear Q & A

What is a rotator cuff tear?

Your rotator cuff has four muscles with tendons that attach them to the bones in your shoulder. These muscles start on your shoulder blade (scapula) and end by connecting to the outer corner of the ball at the top of your upper arm (humerus).

If they come under excessive stress or wear, these muscles may suffer a strain (become overstretched), partial tear, or complete tear, where the rotator cuff detaches from the bone.

Rotator cuff tears are common injuries that can cause acute and chronic pain, loss of function, and long-term problems like shoulder instability and cuff tear arthropathy without expert treatment.

What causes a rotator cuff tear?

There are several ways in which you might incur a rotator cuff tear:

Acute injuries

You might strain or tear your rotator cuff if you use your arm to break a fall or try to lift something heavy with a jerking motion. Rotator cuff tears often occur at the same time as shoulder dislocation, when the top of the arm bone comes away from the socket in your shoulder blade.

Overuse or wear-and-tear

Your rotator cuff is more likely to tear if the tendons are damaged or weak after years of use. 

Older people typically suffer rotator cuff injuries after less severe traumas because the tissues are less resistant to tearing. To make matters worse, the blood flow to your rotator cuff isn’t so good as you get older either, making it harder for your body to repair itself.

What treatments are available for a rotator cuff tear?

Unless you have a problem that requires surgery straight away, like a bad fracture, Dr. Cash usually begins with conservative options such as: 

  • Rest
  • Immobilizing the shoulder with a sling 
  • Activity modification
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections

If your condition isn’t improving with these treatments, you might need to consider surgery.

What surgery would I need for my rotator cuff tear?

Dr. Cash might just need to debride (trim) the rotator cuff if you have a partial tear where there’s still some tendon attached to the bone.

If there’s a complete rotator cuff tear, Dr. Cash repairs it and secures the tendon back onto your bones. He may need to use a graft if the tendon is too badly damaged. In many cases, he can perform rotator cuff surgery using minimally invasive shoulder arthroscopy techniques.

For an expert assessment of your rotator cuff tear, call Premier Orthopedic Specialists of Tulsa today or book an appointment online.