What Is a Rotator Cuff?
Like all of your shoulder anatomy, it is a highly complex part of the human body. Your shoulder is where four different muscles come together to cover the humerus bone, which is also known as the upper arm bone. This upper arm bone is the long bone that runs from your shoulder to your elbow.
The point in your rotator cuff where these four muscles come together is often referred to as your SITS muscle. SITS is an acronym that uses the first letter of each of the four muscles that come together here, including the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis muscles. These muscles come up from the scapula (shoulder blade) and join at the top of your upper arm bone (humerus) to create a cuff around your glenohumeral (GH) joint.
What Causes It to Tear?
Often confused with shoulder dislocation, there are four key causes of injuries. To prevent and understand how to prevent aggravating an existing injury, it is essential to look at the root cause. Here are four common causes.
Physically Demanding Jobs
People who work in very physical jobs like home renovations or factory work can get degenerative shoulder wear. This is also common in industries like healthcare or retail work where people are regularly lifting heavy things, also likely to experience lower back pains.
Athletes and Sports
Whether you are a serious athlete or just try to get out and play as often as possible, you are at an increased risk of suffering from a sports injury. These are particularly common for basketball players and weightlifters.
Are you seeking sports injury treatment? Look no further and talk to our orthopaedic doctors here at Ray of Health today!
It is a natural reaction to reach out with your hands when you are falling. While this can protect other areas of your body, it leaves you at an increased risk of injury. Impact injuries can also cause broken ankles or meniscus tears.
Wear and Tear with Age
From age 40 and beyond, your odds of having an age-related shoulder injury are progressively increased as you get older.
You might want to talk to us regarding shoulder dislocation treatment plans if you suspect there's a possibility of such an injury.
What Are the Types of Injuries?
When you are dealing with a rotator cuff tear, you may have either a full or partial tear to one or more of the muscles located inside of the socket of your shoulder. An injury can be the result of long-term wear and tear or it may be a sudden injury.
You can get a tear in any one of the four muscles, and they can vary significantly in their severity. When it is not a complete tear, it is referred to as tendinopathy and it is one of the most common causes of pain. More often than not, these incomplete tears happen in the supraspinatus muscle, which is the muscle that you use when you lift your arm away from your body. While this is a common case, it is far from the only one. Let’s look at a full range of injuries.
When you get a diagnosis, your tear will be classified into one of the following categories.
- Partial tear: When your tendon is damaged but not completely severed, you have what is called a partial tear. This is the least severe of all of the potential rotator cuff injuries.
- Complete tear: If the soft tissue is torn completely and now has two separate pieces, you have a complete tear.
In addition to classifying the severity of a tear, your doctor will also identify the cause of your injury. This aspect is also important because it impacts the treatment of your rotator cuff injury.
While there are many different causes of injuries and countless different circumstances that may lead to the injury. We classify them into one of two categories: acute tears and degenerative tears.
- Acute tear: When your injury is caused by sudden trauma, like falling, picking up something too heavy, or taking a blow during sports, it is considered to be an acute tear.
- Degenerative tear: It is often the case that a tear is caused by long-term wear and wear. Lifestyle is a key consideration here as some jobs and certain sports make you more prone to experiencing rotator cuff tears. Certain conditions like diabetes or high cholesterol can increase your odds of tearing your tendon and certain hereditary factors also increase your likelihood.
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Treating a Rotator Cuff Injury in Singapore
Your shoulder plays an important role in your everyday life. From washing your hair in the morning to reaching for a coffee cup, the smallest part of your day can turn sour when you’re dealing with pain. That is especially true when you are dealing with an injury in your shoulder or possibly a wrist fracture.
These injuries are one of the most common causes. This grouping of muscles and tendons surrounding your joint can create an uncomfortable ache that is hard to ignore. This type of injury can create a frustrating level of pain every time you move or an ache that keeps you awake at night.
Looking to get rotator cuff treatment in Singapore? We are ready to help! The orthopaedic doctor here at Ray of Health will diagnose your issue and create a customised treatment plan to get you feeling like your own self again. We also offer treatment for knee arthritis and ACL tears.
How Do You Know If You Have Torn It?
Wondering if you have a torn rotator cuff? While shoulder injuries are more noticeable and you can pinpoint the exact time of the injury, shoulder wear and tear is rarely so obvious.
Whether it is the result of a traumatic injury or as a determinative condition, you will experience similar symptoms. Let's take a look at some of the common signs.
The top symptom is dull, aching shoulder pain. This pain will typically get worse when you raise or lower your arm.
If you are experiencing more severe shoulder pain, you may have a severe rotator cuff tear or another injury in addition to the tear.
In many cases, it is not an overwhelming amount of pain that pushes people to see a doctor about a potential tear but rather difficulty sleeping.
When you are trying to get comfortable and fall asleep at night, you may find that shoulder pain is preventing you from getting settled. This is an especially common problem for side sleepers.
In addition to shoulder pain, a tear will cause your shoulder to feel weak even during simple routine tasks like washing your hair. Often people find the pain to be mild but get frustrated by their reduced ability.
When you have a tear, it changes the way that your shoulder’s ball and socket fit together. This change can cause a sound like a pop or a crack, which is a condition called crepitus.
Note: It is important to be aware that this is just a general overview of what you might experience. While these are the most common systems, they are not the only possible symptoms including swelling, stiffness, loss of your range of motion, and tenderness. Just as importantly, you should be aware that these are also the symptoms of other shoulder problems so it’s impossible to guess your diagnosis without a proper examination.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Here at Ray Of Health, we regularly see patients with rotator cuff tears and it’s a very quick and simple diagnosis process. To find out what is wrong with your shoulder, the doctor will start with a physical exam. During this examination, you will move your arm into a different position to evaluate the pain, stretch, and range of movement.
In addition to a physical examination, it may also be necessary to do an additional exam including one of the following types of imaging tests may include:
- X-rays: If your doctor thinks that you may have a bone spur, arthritis, or another condition affecting your shoulder, an X-ray may be necessary. While a rotator cuff tear can’t be detected with an X-ray, it is a good way to check for other conditions that also may be causing you discomfort.
- Ultrasound: This type of test is able to take a closer look at the muscles and tendons of your shoulder. During an ultrasound, your doctor can get a more complete view of your shoulder during movement and see the difference between your affected shoulder and unaffected shoulder.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Commonly referred to as an MRI, this type of imaging test uses magnetic technology and radio waves to see the entire shoulder and everything that is going on inside of it.
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Shoulder Rotator Cuff Exercise
If you're looking for exercises to relieve rotator cuff pain, check out these videos below.