The rotator cuff, which is made up of muscles and tendons in the shoulder, connects the upper arm bone to the shoulder blade and helps hold that bone in the shoulder socket. New Orleans orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Meyer is sharing answers to questions he frequently receives regarding injuries to the rotator cuff.
How will I know if I suffer a rotator cuff injury?
Shoulder pain is the most common symptom of rotator cuff injury, particularly when reaching upwards, bending your arm back or carrying something heavy. Other symptoms include:
- Shoulder tenderness and weakness;
- Loss of range of motion;
- Discomfort with active shoulder usage;
- Pressure on the affected shoulder.
Will a rotator cuff injury heal?
In about 50% of the cases, minor or moderate injuries will heal with appropriate self-care and exercise therapy. If the pain is severe, you can’t use your arm or it is too weak to use for simple tasks, or if the shoulder pain lasts more than one week, make an appointment with a your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon.
What is appropriate self-care?
- Rest the aggravated shoulder and avoid any movements that cause more pain.
- During the first two or three days, apply cold packs every 15 to 20 minutes for two to three hours to reduce pain and swelling.
- If necessary use anti-inflammatory pain medications that contain aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen or and/or naproxen.
- Once the pain and inflammation lessen, use a heating pad regularly to relax the sore muscles.
- Do gentle range-of-motion exercises to keep muscles more limber.
- Don’t extend the range of motion to the extent where you feel pain.
Can rotator cuff injuries be avoided?
- To help prevent injury:
- Perform regular shoulder exercises;
- Take frequent breaks;
- Frequently rest your arm when engaged in repetitive movements.
Strengthening exercises are important, especially if you are at higher risk or have had a previous rotator cuff injury. Your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon can help you develop a good routine to do at home.
Are there other options besides surgery?
Depending on the severity of your condition, your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon may first administer medications or steroid injections. A guided physical therapy program can allow many individuals to avoid surgery. If the rotator cuff is severely torn, you will likely need surgery to effectively repair it.
If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder – don’t wait – contact the office of New Orleans orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Meyer today to schedule an appointment!