As specialists in orthopedics, the physicians with the Merrillville, Indiana Methodist Physician Group Orthopedic and Spine Center handle many different types of sports-related injuries including torn rotator cuffs. Injuries to this critical group of muscles and tendons occur due to repeated use, which is why you see this problem often in baseball pitchers or tennis pros.
The rotator cuff is a bundle of muscles and tendons that encircle the shoulder joint to secure it. The shoulder consists of a ball and socket joint. The ball sits at the tip of the humerus or arm bone. The socket portion of this joint connects to the scapula, the winged shaped bone in the back. The rotator cuff is what holds these two pieces in place while the arm moves around. Without it, the ball can easily come out of the socket with each overhead rotation.
An injury to this tight group of connective tissue is sometimes referred to as rotator cuff disease because it's usually a cumulative stress problem. Think about how a tennis player uses the shoulder. The ball goes up in the air, and the arm with the racket reaches high and slams forward to serve it. Someone who does that one hard movement over and over can cause inflammation that grows into tears if left untreated. The tears continue to widen with even minor shoulder use until the movement of the joint becomes compromised. Tearing of the rotator cuff leaves the shoulder immobile.
The symptoms will vary based on the severity of the problem, but some common indications include:
Since this condition does accumulate, it's best to see a specialist at Methodist Physician Group Orthopedic and Spine Center if you feel any shoulder or arm pain, especially if it comes with a loss of motion. If there's a severe tear, early treatment can lessen the effect.
Minor injuries will do well with a conservative approach that includes icing and physical therapy to build in the muscles of the shoulder and upper back. More serious tears require more aggressive treatments such as:
The physicians at Methodist Physician Group Orthopedic and Spine Center will create a comprehensive treatment plan to allow the muscle group to heal.