Shoulders: Rotator Cuff Deterioration 2018-02-20T13:31:55-05:00


To rotate your shoulder, you need a properly functioning rotator cuff, which is not suffering from deterioration. Tendons and muscles make up the rotator cuff. It is not a bone within itself; it connects bones. It connects the shoulder blade (scapula) to the upper arm (humerus). The rotator cuff creates stability for the arm. You probably hear about rotator cuff injuries more with baseball. Baseball players use their rotator cuff when they throw. Pitchers are more likely to damage their rotator cuff than any other person on the field. All they do is throw. Rotator cuff deterioration happens as the rotator cuff ages or becomes overworked.

The rotator cuff is crucial for shoulder movement. When you have rotator cuff deterioration, you may not be able to move your shoulder at all. Your range of motion will be extremely limited. You may be able to move side to side, but it will be very difficult to lift your arm. Four different muscles make up the rotator cuff. Tendons then connect those muscles to the humerus bone. When one of those muscles or tendons experience deterioration, you will begin to feel pain when you move your arm a certain way. Deterioration can be a result of many different things.

The rotator cuff like every other part of the body can deteriorate. Rotator cuff deterioration may be a result of a previous tear or overuse. When you tear your rotator cuff, it can detach from the bone completely. The tear may also be in the middle of the tendon or muscle. When your rotator cuff tears, you may not even feel it initially. If the tear is not taken care of, you will also experience deterioration. The tear will only get worse and lead to either a complete detachment or more tears in the rotator cuff. Inflammation in the tendon may also be a result of deterioration. If you do not rest the arm, inflammation will continue, and the tendon will deteriorate. When you continue to overwork your rotator cuff without proper rest, it will also experience degeneration. It just wears away little by little. The muscles and tendons usually detach from the bones.

The interesting thing about rotator cuff injuries is that you do not usually feel it when it first happens. It may be years before you are diagnosed with rotator cuff deterioration. The initial onset of the deterioration does not usually bring about any pain or weakness. In most cases you can function normally. You can have a complete tear and probably not even notice. It usually takes one more aggravation of the shoulder to bring about pain and discomfort. If you are in a profession where you are constantly using your rotator cuff, that aggravation may happen much sooner than in someone who does not use their rotator cuff at all. There is a treatment for rotator cuff injuries.


Treatment does not always require surgery. It depends on the severity of the issue. If you are not having any pain at all or discomfort, the doctor may just suggest rest and ice. You may have to be a little more careful and cautious with your arm. For the most part, you are still good to go. When you lose your range of motion and experiencing a good amount of pain, surgery is the next option. For large tears, open cuff surgery is done. The whole shoulder is exposed and repaired after making a large cut. There is also mini-open repair surgery which not only repairs the shoulder but removes bone spurs and any tissue that is deteriorated. For mild rotator cuff injuries, small holes are made, and an instrument is used to repair the problem. The doctor controls the machine, but it makes recovery quicker when small holes are made versus a large incision.

In most repairs the tendons are reattached to the bone. This reattachment makes the rotator cuff functional again. Recovery after the surgery takes a while. The body has to heal from the surgery, and it is best not to do any strenuous activity in between time. The surgery is typically outpatient, and you can go home right away.  They will give you a sling to wear to keep your shoulder in place. Your arm will be positioned close to your body to make sure no further tears occur during recovery. Recovery will last up to 6 months. You will have to go through therapy to strengthen that shoulder again. Once recovery is over, you will feel good as new.

Rotator cuff deterioration does not cause problems until you begin feeling pain and discomfort. If you use your rotator cuff a lot, you are at risk for deterioration. If you are having trouble lifting your arm or you cannot sleep because of shoulder pain, you may have a rotator cuff tear. If the pain happens all of a sudden without any reason, it could mean you have had the problem for years, but it is just now manifesting into pain and discomfort. The best thing to do is meet with a sports medicine physician. They will do some imaging to confirm what is going on. Get the treatment you need as soon as possible. The quicker you get the problem fixed, the faster you can get back to your work.


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