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Can My Rotator Cuff Be Treated with Arthroscopy?

Can My Rotator Cuff Be Treated with Arthroscopy?

Professional baseball fans are all too familiar with rotator cuff injuries since pitchers are especially prone to rotator cuff injuries; a 2014 study of high school-level pitchers found that pitching even just 100 balls a week can lead to a higher injury-risk level. 

However, rotator cuff injuries extend well past the baseball diamond. Anyone who repeatedly performs overhead actions is susceptible to rotator cuff injuries, especially older adults. When the shoulder pain of a rotator cuff injury hits, you may dread the traumatic open surgery needed to fix a tear. Thankfully, with shoulder arthroscopy, your injury can be patched up with a minimally invasive surgery that gets you back to your favorite activities in less time. 

Do you have dull shoulder pain that painkillers and rest can’t fix? If so, come see our team at Steven E. Nolan, MD. Dr. Nolan is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience and has received numerous top-surgeon awards. Here, he discusses rotator cuff injury symptoms, risk factors, and how shoulder arthroscopy might be the best solution for your injury. 

On rotator cuff injuries

A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround your shoulder joint and keep the head of your upper arm bone within your shoulder socket. When healthy, your rotator cuff helps you lift and rotate your arms. The most common injury to the rotator cuff is a tear, which can be partial or complete. Partial tears involve a frayed or damaged tendon, usually near the top of the shoulder. A complete tear means that a tendon is completely severed or may have become detached from the bone. 

Symptoms of a tear include: 

Some partial tears can heal on their own, and complete tears need surgery. 

Risk factors

The main risk factor for a rotator cuff injury is age. Over time, the tendons and muscles that make up the rotator cuff start to deteriorate from wear and tear. Rotator cuff injuries are most common in people above 40; by age 80, most people have partial tears. 

Beyond age, sports and activities that demand repeated arm movements above the head are risk factors for people of all ages. Among athletes, swimmers, tennis players, baseball players, and weight-lifters are most susceptible to injury. Painters, carpenters, construction workers, and other occupations that require a lot of lifting or overhead work have an elevated risk of injuring their rotator cuff, too. 

Shoulder arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique that uses a camera, called an arthroscope, and thin narrow instruments to view and treat an injury. During a shoulder arthroscopy procedure, Dr. Nolan makes a small incision about the size of a buttonhole. He then inserts a camera that lets him see the inside of your joint. With a clear view on a chair-side monitor, Dr. Nolan uses other thin instruments to repair your joint. 

Arthroscopy has many advantages over traditional open surgery. Because the entire surgery is done via a few small incisions, it involves less trauma. This means less pain, less scarring, and a quicker recovery time. Arthroscopy can get you pain-free and back to your active life much more quickly than open surgery. 

To learn more about shoulder arthroscopy and if it may help treat your rotator cuff injury, request an appointment online or over the phone with Steven E. Nolan, MD, today.

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