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Rotator Cuff Injuries

What is the Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint. It is what keeps the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow shoulder socket.

Rotator Cuff injury symptoms:

An injury to your rotator cuff is usually described as a dull ache deep in the shoulder. It can be disruptive to your day-to-day life. For example, a rotator cuff injury may:

  • Disturb sleep, particularly if you lie on the affected shoulder

  • Make it difficult to comb your hair or reach behind your back

  • Be accompanied by arm weakness

Who is at Risk for Rotator Cuff injuries?

Those who are at highest risk for injuries to the rotator cuff occur most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in sports or work. Some examples include:

  • Baseball players

  • Tennis players

  • Painters

  • Carpenters

The risk of rotator cuff injury is also increased with age.

Rotator Cuff Treatment

Many people recover from a rotator cuff injury with conservative treatments, such as rest, ice, and physical therapy. However, severe rotator cuff injuries that involve complete tears of the muscle or tendon may require surgery.


If conservative treatments haven't reduced your pain, your doctor may recommend a steroid injection into your shoulder joint.


Physical therapy exercises improve flexibility and strength of the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint after a rotator cuff injury.


If your doctor has recommended surgical treatment for your rotator cuff injury, some options may include:

  • Bone spur removal. Sometimes an overgrowth of bone is irritating your rotator cuff. In this procedure, excess bone is removed and the damaged portion of the tendon can be smoothed. This procedure is often performed using arthroscopy, in which a fiber-optic camera and special tools are inserted through tiny incisions.

  • Tendon repair or replacement. Often, a torn rotator cuff tendon can be repaired and reattached to the upper arm bone. If the torn tendon is too damaged, surgeons may decide to use a nearby tendon as a replacement.

  • Shoulder replacement. This is only recommended in the most extreme cases. Massive rotator cuff injuries that are associated with severe degenerative joint disease (arthritis) of the shoulder may require shoulder replacement surgery. An innovative procedure (reverse shoulder arthroplasty) is used to improve the artificial joint's stability.

For more information about Rotator Cuff injuries, as well as safe and effective treatment options, call Dr. James Bynum at (239) 337-2003.

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