Sports Medicine: Rotator Cuff Tears and Your Options for Recovery

When most people think about torn tendons and ligaments, many people assume that these injuries occur due to sports-related accidents. While many of these injuries are, indeed, related to playing sports, injuries such as a rotator cuff tear can happen at any time.

Most rotator cuff tears are the result of repetitive stress placed on the shoulder, which is why it is often an issue among quarterbacks and pitchers. You may not be an athlete, but repetitive overhead activities can weaken the rotator cuff in your shoulder, increasing your chances of a tear.

What Does It Feel Like?

Rotator cuff tears aren’t life-threatening, but it does severely limit your ability to do your daily tasks and the things you love the most. Knowing the signs of a potential tear can help you seek the help of a sports medicine practitioner and start your road to recovery faster.

options for recovery

Common signs of a torn rotator cuff include pain in the shoulder and arm, weakness in the shoulder, and snapping or cracking sounds when moving the shoulder. Naturally, the symptom(s) you experience depend on how severe the tear is. Tears that were caused by a sudden impact are often very painful. People who gradually tear their rotator cuffs tend to experience dull pain and weakness in the area.

The Road to Recovery

If you suspect that you have sustained a torn rotator cuff, do not delay visiting an orthopedics facility in Denver such as Steadman Hawkins Clinic Denver. Delaying proper treatment and/or allowing the injury to heal incorrectly can lead to limited range of motion and other issues.

At the orthopedics facility, your doctor will conduct a thorough physical exam to help him or her determine the possibility of a torn rotator cuff. Your doctor may also ask you to undergo an MRI to see how large the tear is.

Treatment highly depends on how large the tear is. Small tears often heal on their own; your doctor will ask you to start wearing a sling to help keep your shoulder from moving. Larger tears (more than 3 centimeters) will often require surgery.

Cases that require surgery often have a recovery period of 4-6 months. During this time, you will undergo physical therapy to help strengthen the shoulder, decreasing the chances of another tear.

SOURCES:

Rotator Cuff Tears, orthoinfo.aaos.org

Rotator Cuff Tear, webmd.com

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