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A Rotator Cuff Injury Diagnosis

A rotator cuff injury diagnosis may take a few steps to accurately decide upon. Although the signs and symptoms of a rotator cuff injury are fairly common there can be other underlying issues that could cause the pain outside of the rotator cuff area but have similar symptoms as one. For this reason a rotator cuff injury diagnosis may require several steps.

If you believe you have injured your rotator cuff, the first step will be to get to an emergency room or to your general practitioner. Your doctor will likely ask you to show your physical capabilities with the injured shoulder and ask you to move it as freely as you are able. The doctor may also feel the local area for swelling or any strain or breaks.

If your doctor is unsure he may even ask for an x-ray to confirm his suspicions. Although rotator cuff injuries are very painful, so are broken shoulder bones or dislocated shoulders, and with similar symptoms it is important to eliminate other possibilities before deciding on a plan of rehabilitative. A rotator cuff injury diagnosis is a serious one and has some serious requirements to repair oftentimes.

Your doctor may also decide to send you to a specialist who can help you by being more focused on the area of injury for which you need the rotator cuff injury diagnosis. A specialist can also help to narrow down the specific rotator cuff injury diagnosis to specific tendons so that they can help you, along with a physical therapist, to determine the best course of action for your recuperation.

Partial Rotator Cuff Tear

Several shoulder issues are caused by injuries to the rotator cuff, which are the tendons that attach the shoulder muscles to the arm.

The rotator cuff is formed of four tendons that collectively form the rotator cuff. If the rotator cuff becomes inflamed o tears partially, it can cause pain and limit the movement of the shoulder. With a partial rotator cuff tear, the patient will still have limited use of the arm. However, with a full tear, severe limitations are caused to shoulder movement, along with pain and weakness.

A partial rotator cuff tear does not go all the way through the tendons. Almost all partial rotator cuff tears can be treated without surgery, at least in the initial stages. Other treatments are tried, including physical therapy, to allow the tendon to heal itself. If the healing does not happen over time and if the tear enlarges and goes through the tendons, surgery can considered for a partial thickness rotator cuff tear.

A surgeon determines when surgery becomes necessary for a partial rotator cuff tear. If less than 50% of the tendon is torn, surgeons opine that surgery can be avoided. An arthroscopic view of the injured tendon is taken and a decision is taken whether or not to operate on the rotator cuff.

If the tendon is less than 50% torn, removing the damaged and frayed tendon might resolve the issue. If more than 50% of the tendon is torn, a rotator cuff repair surgery will have to be performed.

When a partially torn rotator cuff is repaired, the resulting tendon is usually quite strong. There is less stress on the repaired tendon as well, when compared to the repair of full rotator cuff tears. This is good as it helps in quick healing.

Rotator Cuff Bursitis

A bursa is a soft sac that is filled with fluid, which helps to lubricate and cushion soft tissue surfaces that undergo friction. A bursa basically helps reduce friction and keeps movement smooth.

In the shoulder, bursae are located between the shoulder blade and the rotator cuff. An inflamed or irritated bursa causes bursitis. Bursitis is usually accompanied by pain and swelling of the shoulder joint.

The symptoms of rotator cuff bursitis are pain or swelling, pain when shoulder is moved and tenderness in the injured area. Doctors check the injured area using X-ray testing to see if the rotator cuff bursitis is chronic or recurrent. MRI scanning can also help identify rotator cuff bursitis.

If the rotator cuff bursitis is not infected. Uninfected rotator cuff bursitis can be treated with rest, ice compresses, and pain and anti-inflammatory medications. The fluid might need to be removed to relieve symptoms. The bursa fluid is removed with needle and syringe in a sterile environment.  The fluid is sometimes sent for further analysis depending on the patient’s medical history.

If the rotator cuff bursitis is not infected, it can be treated with steroid injections given directly into the inflamed bursa. This can be done at the same time that the bursa is drained. Sometimes a patient is prescribed physical therapy to help with the recovery, especially when patient complains of a frozen shoulder.

If the rotator cuff bursitis is infected, the treatment has to be more aggressive.  The bursa will have to be drained and the fluid examined to identify the infection-causing microbes. The patient will need to be given antibiotics. Care needs to be taken and the rotator cuff bursitis will have to be watched for secondary infection. This can get a little complicated if the patient happens to be a diabetic.

Rotator Cuff Damage

In the case of rotator cuff damage, a doctor’s exam and your symptoms may go further in figuring out what the problem is than tests like X-rays and MRI’s. Many times rotator cuff damage is difficult because X-Rays can look normal and small tears cannot always be seen even with imaging technology.

Pain and weakness are classic symptoms of rotator cuff damage, so is pain when dressing or doing something as simple as brushing your hair. If you have these symptoms it is likely that you will receive a diagnosis of rotator cuff damage from your doctor. When you first receive a rotator cuff damage diagnosis, your doctor may put the affected arm in a sling to rest your shoulder and recommend that you take NSAIDS or ibuprofen for the pain and inflammation.

Depending on the severity of the pain, he may prescribe a round of physical therapy or send you home with some exercises to strengthen the muscles in your shoulder. This is standard procedure with rotator cuff damage. Other conservative treatments that your doctor may prescribe if you have rotator cuff damage are hot or cold packs, ultrasound therapy and cortisone shots.

If you have received a rotator cuff damage diagnosis and the pain doesn’t improve after awhile your doctor may recommend surgery. With rotator cuff damage arthroscopic surgery is the less invasive procedure but an open procedure can sometimes be required. After the surgery is complete physical therapy is usually recommended to regain strength and range of motion in the shoulder and arm.

Rotator Cuff Repair

Rotator cuff repair surgery is performed to repair a torn tendon in the shoulder. This procedure can be performed either via a large open incision or via the arthroscopic method.

The rotator cuff is a set of tendons and muscles that form a cuff over the shoulder joint, holding the arm in the ball and socket joint, which allows the shoulder to rotate. These tendons are prone to a lot of stress that might cause injury from time to time, creating the need for rotator cuff repair.

If you feel pain in your shoulder and your mobility seems compromised, an MRI scan will tell your doctor what kind of injury has occurred. If the tear has gone through the tendon then either arthroscopic rotator cuff repair surgery or open surgery is performed depending on the surgeon’s discretion.

In arthroscopic rotator cuff repair surgery, a tiny tube that has a camera at its end is inserted into the shoulder through a small incision. The camera is connected to a video screen where the surgeon can monitor the direction of the scope. Through this camera, the surgeon gets a good look at the tendons, cartilage, muscles and ligaments of your shoulder.

The surgeon then places the camera in the subacromial space above the rotator cuff tendons and removes damage dtissue or very inflamed tissue and any bone spurs that might have caused the injury. If the tear needs fixing, the surgeon may have to create a larger incision or create more incisions to do the rotator cuff repair surgery arthroscopically. The surgeon then re-attaches the tendon to the bone at the point where it tore.