What Exactly Is a Rotator Cuff, and How Does It Tear?

February 13, 2019 10:50 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Rotator cuff injuries in Las Vegas, NV are actually quite common, but many people don’t know exactly what is involved with this condition.

Here’s the scoop. Use this guide to answer your FAQs. Contact your local orthopedist for additional information.

What is a rotator cuff?

To understand the answer to this question, one must first grasp the anatomy of the shoulder. The shoulder is made up of the humerus (upper arm bone), the clavicle (collarbone) and the scapula (shoulder blade). The head of the humerus fits into a socket in the scapula. This is called a ball-and-socket joint.

All of this is held in place by four muscles and tendons that come together at this socket. These muscles and tendons create a covering for the humerus, attach the humerus to the shoulder blade and provide movement to lift and rotate the arm. This group is called the rotator cuff.

How does a rotator cuff tear?

When one of the four muscles or tendons is pulled away from the humerus bone, this is called a rotator cuff tear. This injury is typically preceded by a fraying of the tendon. This degeneration progresses until the tendon tears. The tear may be considered partial or full-thickness. In the case of a partial or incomplete tear, the tendon is damaged but not completely severed. With full-thickness or complete tears, all of the tendon is separated from the bone.

Either of these types of tears can be caused by one of two reasons. Acute tears occur when you injure the rotator cuff by lifting something heavy, falling or suffering other related shoulder injuries. Degenerative tears occur as a result of tendon degeneration over time. This degeneration occurs as individuals age. It is more likely if the person places repetitive stress on the tendon, suffers from reduced blood flow or experiences bone spurs.

What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury in Las Vegas, NV?

This injury is far from painless, so it’s usually obvious that something is wrong. Common symptoms include pain at rest, pain when lifting or lowering the arm, weakness in the arm and a crackling sensation when moving the shoulder.

If the tear occurs due to an acute injury, you will typically experience intense, immediate pain. Immediate weakness in the arm may also occur. Degenerative tears are also painful, but the symptoms worsen over time. Keep in mind, some minor tears are not very painful, but still cause weakness in the arm or other symptoms.

Get Treatment

If you suspect you’ve suffered a rotator cuff injury in Las Vegas, NV, don’t hesitate to seek treatment. Several options are available, depending on the severity of the injury and other health-related factors. Contact your local orthopedist to complete an assessment of your rotator cuff, determine whether there has been an injury and get expert input on how best to proceed. For personalized attention and top-quality care, contact the office of Dr. Bernard Ong, M.D. Our services include orthopedic surgery, sports medicine, arthroscopy, meniscus surgery, ACL surgery, knee replacement and more. Reach out to us today!

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