Rotator Cuff

Third Day Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

Jeff N. Spaw, MD

Orthopedic Surgery & Total Joint Replacement Specialist located in College Station, TX & Brenham, TX

About two million people seek medical treatment for rotator cuff injuries every year. Experienced orthopedic surgeon Jeffrey Spaw, MD, performs arthroscopic rotator cuff repair at Third Day Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in College Station and Brenham, Texas. If you suffer from shoulder pain and think you may have a rotator cuff problem, call or book an appointment online today.

Rotator Cuff Q & A

What is a rotator cuff injury?

The rotator cuff is one of the most important parts of your shoulder. This group of four tendons surround the head of your upper arm bone (humerus) and attach it to your shoulder blade. The rotator cuff allows you to lift your arms overhead to catch a ball or reach for your favorite coffee mug.

When one or more of these tendons become frayed, damaged, or torn, you have a rotator cuff injury. This may result from acute trauma, like a car accident or a bad fall. More often, rotator cuff tears develop over time as the tendon fibers wear down from repetitive motions.

What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear?

The symptoms you experience may vary depending on the severity of your rotator cuff tear and how it occurred. Common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include:

  • Weakness in the affected arm
  • Pain when lifting and lowering the arm
  • Pain during rest, especially if lying on the injured shoulder
  • A crackling sensation when moving your shoulder in certain ways

Rotator cuff tears that occur during a fall or other type of injury typically cause sudden, intense pain. You may also feel a snapping sensation and immediate weakness in your shoulder.

Tears that develop gradually also cause pain and weakness. However, these symptoms are typically mild at first and grow progressively worse over time.

How are rotator cuff injuries diagnosed and treated?

First, Dr. Spaw spends time with you discussing your symptoms and medical history. Then, he carefully examines your shoulder to check for tenderness and restricted range of motion. He may also take imaging tests, like an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

If imaging tests don’t provide adequate information about the condition of your shoulder, Dr. Spaw may recommend arthroscopy. In this minimally invasive surgical technique, Dr. Spaw inserts a thin tube with a light and camera at the end (arthroscope) into a small incision in your shoulder.

Dr. Spaw may also repair your damaged rotator cuff arthroscopically by inserting miniature surgical tools through incisions about the size of a buttonhole. Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is the least invasive method of reconstructing a torn rotator cuff.

However, not all rotator cuff injuries require surgery. Dr. Spaw recommends non-surgical treatments whenever possible, including:

  • Resting the shoulder
  • Physical therapy
  • Therapeutic injections
  • Anti-inflammatory medication

To find relief from a rotator cuff injury, call Third Day Orthopedics & Sports Medicine or book an appointment online today.

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