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What are the Types of Rotator Cuff Injuries and their Treatments?

31st Jan 2022 | 0 comments

You already know that the rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that attach to the upper arm bone (humerus) near the shoulder. The tendons of these muscles help to hold the head of the upper arm bone in place within a shallow socket in the shoulder blade.

However, the rotator cuff is prone to injury as it allows you to perform a range of overhead motions. For this reason, rotator cuff injuries can mean many things and include any type of irritation or damage to your rotator cuff muscles or tendons.

In this article, we explore the different types of rotator cuff injuries along with their treatments in Singapore.

Types of Rotator Cuff Injuries

There are many types of rotator cuff injuries, but they are usually caused by excessive stress on this particular area. Rotator cuff injuries are also common in sports and can happen when the arm is forcefully pulled out of the socket.

Below are some of the injuries that can cause a rotator cuff tear:

1. Acute Injury

An acute rotator cuff tear can occur when you attempt to lift something heavy with a lurching motion. Falling from a great height can also cause acute injury to your rotator cuff. However, this type of rotator cuff injury is the least common reason.

2. Chronic Injury

General wear and tear can increase the chances of a torn rotator cuff. And this is usually the result of repetitive stress, which is typically caused by repeated arm motions linked with sports like tennis, weightlifting, and swimming or jobs like carpentry and painting.

3. Degenerative Injury

Ageing increases the risks of rotator cuff tears. Like any muscle, the rotator cuff loses its vitality due to various factors such as:

  • Repetitive stress – Repeating the same shoulder movements over and over can stress the muscles and tendons of your rotator cuff. Some examples include sports activities and jobs that require the motions to be repeated.

  • Lack of blood supply – As you get older, the blood supply in your rotator cuff lessens. When you don’t have a decent supply of blood, your body’s natural ability to repair a damaged tendon becomes impaired, causing a tendon tear.

  • Bone spurs – With age, bone spurs tend to develop on the underside of the acromion bone. When you lift your arms, these spurs will rub against the rotator cuff tendon, wearing away the rotator cuff tissues causing tears.

4. Tendinitis

Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon that connects to a bone which occurs from overuse or overload of the rotator cuff. It typically leads to pain in the site right outside the joint.

Common forms of tendinitis include a swimmer’s and pitcher’s shoulder as these involve a repetitive motion.

5. Bursitis

Bursitis develops when your bursa, a small fluid-filled sac protecting your rotator cuff becomes inflamed or irritated. It may occur when repeated overhead motions are performed repeatedly.

This includes lifting something over your head or throwing a baseball without getting enough rest to let your rotator cuff recover from the overuse. An infection can also cause bursitis.

6. Tendon Strain or Tear

A partial or full tear can occur in your tendon connecting the muscle to the bone during a sudden injury or as a result of repetitive motion. If your tendinitis isn’t treated, it can cause a rotator cuff tendon to tear.

When you have a torn rotator cuff, it can cause you to experience some weakness, pain, and inability to move your arm in a complete range of motion freely. It can also be painful when you try to lift something overhead and turn your arm.

7. Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is a common cause of shoulder pain which occurs when the rotator cuff rubs or catches on your shoulder bones. It can lead to persistent pain as the tendons are injured and swollen. If your shoulder impingement is left untreated, it can lead to a torn rotator cuff.

What are the treatment options for a torn rotator cuff?

There are two options for a torn rotator cuff treatment: non-surgical and surgical treatments. The former works to relieve pain and restore strength to your affected shoulder while the latter is often recommended if you lead an active lifestyle and use your arm for work or sports.

This is mainly because most rotator cuff tears will not heal without surgery. And continuous usage of your torn rotator cuff can lead to larger tears. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may suggest beginning your treatment with the following:

  • Physical therapy

  • Medications and anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Making lifestyle modifications

  • Getting enough rest

  • Steroid injections

Should any of the non-surgical treatments above fail to relieve your symptoms of a rotator cuff injury, you may need surgery. Your surgeon will likely need to stitch the torn area together or reattach the tendon to the bone.

In some cases, they may need to remove small pieces of tendon or bone that are stuck in your shoulder joint or remove small areas of bone or tissue to provide more room for your tendon to move.

At Spire Orthopaedic Centre, we believe that everyone should be cared for and healed holistically in comfort without having to travel to different locations to seek medical and surgical help and rehabilitation support.

With a combined facility for collaboration between physicians, physiotherapists, and surgeons, you will experience a seamless service from diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation, that’s tailored just for you at our clinic.