Shoulder: Rotator Cuff Injuries
Tears, Tendinopathy and Subacromial Impingement
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. They allow normal movement of the shoulder and keep it stable within the joint. A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder, which often radiates down the arm and feels worse when you try to sleep on the involved side.
Rotator cuff injuries occur most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs or sports. The risk of rotator cuff injury also increases with age. The images below show where the rotator cuff tendons are located in the shoulder and where most people feel pain if they have a rotator cuff problem
One of the most common problems that can occur with the rotator cuff is a tear. This can either be partial or full. The amount of tearing and individual patient factors are important considerations in determining the best treatment and Professor Saithna will explain the options to you when you attend the clinic. Investigations such as X-rays and scans are usually used to determine the size and type of tear. Treatment options include physiotherapy, activity modification, pain relief and surgery. Click here for more information on surgery
The rotator cuff can still cause pain and restriction of movement even if there is no tear. Typically this occurs due to tendinopathy (where the tendons are worn but no tear) or subacromial impingement. The image below shows that in impingement, the acromion (bone above the rotator cuff) may rub against the tendon causing damage to it.
This mechanical compression can be treated with a keyhole procedure known as a subacromial decompression which involves shaving away a small amount of bone
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