10 Facts about Rotator Cuff Injuries and Repair

Your shoulders are important body parts that should be treated with care; however, the amount of work you make your shoulder do every day often goes unconsidered. This can sometimes result in an injury. Rotator cuffs are involved in most shoulder injuries. Rotator cuff injuries and tears are one of the most common injuries to effect adults and athletes.

rotator cuff injuriesThe rotator cuff is “a group of four muscles that come together as tendons”. These tendons “form a ‘cuff’ over the head of the humerus”. The four muscles that create this cuff are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. These muscles all originate from the scapula, collar bone, and attach to the humerus. They attach at specific spots known as the greater tuberosity and lower tuberosity.

The main functionality of the rotator cuff is to lift and rotate the arm. It also stabilizes the ball of the shoulder within the ball and socket joint that allows free movement of the arm.   However, the rotator cuff has other uses and rotator cuff injuries affect those significantly. Below are ten facts surrounding rotator cuffs and rotator cuff injuries including the most common – rotator cuff tears.

Rotator Cuff Injuries, Tears, and Repairs: 10 Important Facts

  1. Tears are found in 30% – 50% of the population that is older than 50.
  2. Rotator cuff tears are among the most common shoulder disorders that require surgical management.
  3. Once the rotator cuff tendon tears off of the humerus bone, it starts to lose its nutrition. This causes it to begin to die. Timely surgery can greatly improve rates of surgical repair.
  4. Risks for post-operative failure after rotator cuff surgery include: a tear that is larger than 2.5 cm, fatty degeneration of the muscles in an MRI scan, older patient age, patients who are smokers or diabetics with blood sugar control.
  5. Fatty degeneration is associated with muscle weakness after shoulder surgery. This affects shoulder function in addition to being a risk factor for post-operative failure.
  6. After rotator cuff repair surgery, tendon retreat rates of anywhere between 25% and 95% have been reported by orthopedic surgeons observing post-operative patients.
  7. PRP (platelet rich plasma) has been shown to enhance the quality of early tendon healing in rotator cuff repair surgeries.
  8. The supraspinatus is the most common muscle torn out of the four muscles that make up the tendons in the rotator cuff.
  9. Once the rotator cuff surgery has been performed and rehabilitation is completed, a patient will have spent 5-6 months towards total recovery.
  10. Rotator cuff surgery will restore the entire range of motion to the shoulder. It will also reduce pain and significantly improve function when successful.

Injury to a rotator cuff can occur due to sports, sustaining a fall, or can simply be age-related.

Most commonly, a rotator cuff repair is diagnosed with an MRI after a patient complains of severe pain in the shoulder area and visits an orthopedic surgeon. Once an MRI is completed and the pain is diagnosed as a rotator cuff injury then treatment is decided. Not all rotator cuff repairs require surgery; however a large rotator cuff tear often requires surgery and months of rehabilitation in order to properly heal and regain functionality.

One of the most important things you can do if you suffer a rotator cuff injury is to seek medical attention immediately. Recovery rates are drastically improved when a rotator cuff injury is diagnosed and treated by a doctor as quickly as possible. If you feel that you may have an injured rotator cuff, contact Dr. Stacie Grossfeld at Orthopaedic Specialists immediately by calling 502-212-2663.