An awkward maneuver or landing during a sports or other high-intensity activity, or repetitive lifting or overhead movements can lead to a rotator cuff injury. While we often think of baseball pitchers when referring to rotator cuff injuries, rotator cuff problems can also appear after age 50 as a result of degeneration.
The rotator cuff is a group of small muscles deep within the big deltoid muscle. They cover the top of the humerus (upper arm bone) like a cuff and rotate the arm bone. These muscles are vulnerable to compression or friction from the overlying bony shoulder cap.
A torn rotator cuff will weaken your shoulder, and you may notice the loss of your ability to use your shoulder for everyday activities. Movements such as combing your hair and getting dressed may become painful and difficult to do. Spurs are often associated with rotator cuff problems as well.
Dr. Dietrich takes a conservative approach to the treatment of rotator cuff injuries whenever possible, using:
- Home exercises
- Activity modification
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Joint injections
If surgery is determined to be your best treatment option, Dr. Dietrich performs several minimally invasive techniques to help you find pain relief and improved function. Surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff most often involves re-attaching the tendon to the head of the humerus. A partial tear, however, may need only a trimming or smoothing procedure called a debridement. A complete tear within the thickest part of the tendon is repaired by stitching the two sides back together.
For advanced rotator cuff injuries, Dr. Dietrich performs precise arthroscopic surgery that can often be done as an outpatient procedure. Early assessment of your problem is important for a positive outcome and better shoulder movement.