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Understanding Your Treatment Options for a Torn Rotator Cuff

Understanding Your Treatment Options for a Torn Rotator Cuff

Your rotator cuff is complicated.

Four muscles and four tendons unite in your shoulder to help lift and move your arms.

So, when you’ve got an injury in an area of your body with that many moving parts, you want an expert to explain your treatment options, help you determine the best choice, and then complete the treatment.

Here at Steven E. Nolan, MD, our team has helped countless patients through this exact situation (it affects almost 2 million Americans each year). Here’s what you need to understand about your treatment options for a torn rotator cuff.

What is a torn rotator cuff?

The four muscles and tendons we mentioned work together to stabilize your shoulder joint and allow you to lift and move your arms away from your body. The cuff keeps the ball of your upper arm bone (the humerus) in the shoulder socket. 

A partial tear means your tendon has frayed or become damaged but is still attached to the arm bone. With a complete tear, a hole or rip goes all the way through the tendon, separating it entirely from the bone. Tears can happen as a result of injury or due to wear and tear that occurs over time.

Symptoms of a tear include pain and difficulty raising your arms, weakness in your shoulder, and inability to lift things you typically lift with no problem. You may also hear a clicking or popping when you move your arm.

What are the treatment options?

Rotator cuff tears won’t heal on their own apart from surgery, but you can increase the function of your shoulder and decrease your pain with nonsurgical treatments and by strengthening your shoulder muscles. 

Options that Dr. Nolan can prescribe include an arm sling and time to rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications,  physical therapy to strengthen your shoulder muscles, and steroid injections to ease the pain and reduce swelling.

If these methods aren’t effective, if you have a complete tear, or if your job or sport requires heavy use of your shoulder, you may opt for surgery. 

Dr. Nolan can repair most tears with minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. He makes a small incision to insert a camera and tiny instruments into your shoulder. Recovery usually lasts 4-6 weeks. You may have to wear a sling to keep your shoulder from moving during the healing period.

What treatment is best for you?

Every patient is different. After a physical exam and a conversation with you, Dr. Nolan recommends the best course of action. He usually starts with conservative options to avoid surgery if possible, but if surgery becomes necessary, he’s an expert in keeping the surgery as minimally invasive as possible, so your recovery will be as quick as possible.

If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, our team is here to help. Call our Sugar Land office at 281-720-6909 or use our easy online scheduler to book your appointment anytime.

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