It’s common for people to be unsure if their shoulder pain is just discomfort, or something more serious. Often, it starts as a dull ache when performing certain activities like lifting or reaching. When it begins to develop into a more intense pain that is disrupting your normal way of life, it may be time to visit an orthopedic surgeon.
Your rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in your shoulder that helps you lift and rotate your arm and keeps your shoulder joint in place. Yet, sometimes tendons tear, get pinched by the bones around them or even wear and tear over time. The pain can be severe. You can rest the joint, ice the area and take over-the-counter pain relievers which can help ease your pain and swelling while your rotator cuff heals. If further help is needed, physical therapy may restore your shoulder strength.
If you’re not getting any relief with these steps, surgery may be the next option if you have:
- not improved after 6-12 months
- lost a lot of strength in your shoulder or find it painful to move
- you have a tear in your rotator cuff tendon or
- you’re active and rely on your shoulder strength for your job or play sports
There are different types of surgery depending on the type of tear you have, the size of the tear or how long you’ve had it. Arthroscopic surgery uses small, thin instruments to repair damage to partially torn tendon edges. Or, it could be putting the totally torn tendon back onto the bone. If the tendons have been torn for too long they may not be able to be repaired. In that case, tendon transfers and shoulder replacements are other options to get your shoulder working again.
While recovering from rotator cuff surgery can be a challenge, most people are back to their normal selves in six months. Whether you need surgery or a referral to physical therapy, call our office. We’ll be happy to help coordinate the next steps in your orthopedic care.
Visit: halifaxhealth.org/orthopedics or give us a call at 386.425.6480
Andrew Hayden, MD, is a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon at UF Health Orthopedics – Medical Center of Deltona who specializes in sports medicine and uses minimally invasive techniques to treat injuries and joint replacements of the knee, shoulder, hip and elbow. Dr. Hayden is an expert shoulder and knee surgeon with specialty training in rotator cuff, labrum, ACL, meniscus and cartilage injuries.