Torn Rotator Cuff
Nobody likes to get hurt. What’s worse is when you realized that you’ve sustained an injury that you won’t bounce back from right away. Perhaps you fell and landed on your shoulder. The constant pain your feeling may mean that you’ve torn your rotator cuff.
If you’re not sure what a rotator cuff is, it’s located in your shoulder. You have four muscles that are located there, and injuring one of them means that you have a rotator cuff injury. You may not actually have a torn rotator cuff. The best case scenario would be finding out that you only injured it.
What if you haven’t fallen, but you’re still experiencing the pain in your shoulder. Maybe you are an athlete, and you constantly use your shoulder muscles to throw balls to teammates and opponents. You may not even be able to isolate an event in which you sustained injuries. You could still have a torn rotator cuff since these injuries can either spring from a one time event or happen gradually over time. Torn rotator cuffs that occur from a one time injury are labeled as “acute” while injuries that develop over time are called “cronic” injuries.
The first thing you need to do if you suspect you have a torn rotator cuff is to contact your doctor. This is especially important because it is hard for the average person to distinguish between a torn rotator cuff and an injured rotator cuff. Both of them exhibit similar pain. If the cuff is not torn, it is probably inflamed. This is a much less serious condition.
Your doctor can’t simply diagnose a torn rotator cuff by a physical exam. He will most likely order an anthrogram. This process involves sending radioactive dye through the veins to call attention to the damaged areas in the shoulder. The doctor can then diagnose if it a case of impingement (inflamed rotator cuff) or a torn rotator cuff.
You may ask yourself, “Will this heal on its own? Do I really need to go to the doctor?” That depends on the severity of your injury. If you are suffering from impingement, the injury will get better on its own. It will probably take months, and your doctor can prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to help you throughout the process.
If, however, you have suffered a torn rotator cuff, the prognosis is more serious. If the tear is severe, surgery is recommended. Surgery is the best option because, if left untreated, a severely torn rotator cuff will begin causing you more and more pain, and could possibly lead to arthritis, a very serious condition.
To some people, the idea of surgery is horrifying. The good news is that rotator cuff surgery is a pretty simple, easy surgery. It is often done as an outpatient procedure, meaning that you probably won’t even have to spend the night in the hospital. You will most likely begin exercising the muscles the next day and be back to normal within only a matter of short months.