Treatment Options for Rotator Cuff Injuries- Dr Andy Wee
What is Rotator Cuff Injury?
Rotator cuff injuries are common in Singapore, and they can be devastating. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that connect your upper arm bone (humerus) to your shoulder blade. When these muscles get injured, it can lead to pain and inflammation in the shoulder joint.
The most common cause of rotator cuff injuries is overuse, i.e. too much repetitive movements with poor technique or form. Other causes include falls on an outstretched arm, trauma from sports activities such as tennis or golf (where there’s a lot of swinging), and direct blows to the area around your shoulder blades.
Rotator Cuff Injury in Singapore
The prevalence of rotator cuff tears in Singapore is about 1%, with an average age at onset of 40 years. The male-to-female ratio for rotator cuff injuries is 2:1.
Treatment Options for Rotator Cuff Injury
There are two main treatment options for rotator cuff injuries:
- Non-surgical treatments. These include rest, ice and compression, physiotherapy and steroid injections.
- Surgical treatments. Surgery may be recommended if you have severe damage to your rotator cuff or if non-surgical methods have not helped to reduce pain and improve function of the shoulder joint. Surgery can involve repairing torn tendons or removing bone spurs from around the rim of your socket (acromion).
Risks and Complications of Rotator Cuff Injury
The risks and complications of rotator cuff injury include:
- The most common symptom of a rotator cuff tear is pain in the shoulder area. The pain may be mild or severe, but it’s usually constant and doesn’t go away with rest or medication. It can get worse with activity that involves lifting your arm above shoulder level (elevating your arm above your head).
- Your shoulder may feel stiff if there’s inflammation around one or more tendons in your shoulder joint, which is called bursitis. You might also notice stiffness when moving around in bed at night because lying on one side puts pressure on the inflamed bursa sacs under each rotator cuff tendon attachment point (subacromial bursa).
Treatment Options for Athletes with Rotator Cuff Injury
- Rest is the first step to recovery for any injury. Resting your shoulder will allow it to heal, and you’ll be able to return to activity sooner.
- Ice packs can help reduce swelling and pain by numbing the area around your rotator cuff tendonitis. Apply ice packs 20 minutes at a time, then remove them for 10 minutes before reapplying if necessary (do not apply directly on skin).
Treatment Options for Elderly with Rotator Cuff Injury
- Rest is a good first step.
- You may also want to consider physical therapy, which can help you regain strength in your shoulder and improve your range of motion.
- If you’re still having problems after these treatments, surgery might be necessary.
Exercises to Help Strengthen Shoulder Muscles
A good way to strengthen the muscles in your shoulders is by doing exercises that target these muscles. Here are some examples:
- Shoulder press
- Lateral raise
- Upright row, or shoulder shrugs (with dumbbells)
- Bent over row (with barbells or dumbbells)
Tips to Avoid Rotator Cuff Injury
- Warm up before exercise.
- Strengthen shoulder muscles.
- Use proper form when lifting weights.
- Avoid activities that require sudden movements, such as throwing a punch or swinging a golf club, until you heal completely from your injury.
Dr Andy Wee is skilled in arthroscopy of the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and ankle, and has performed over two thousand arthroscopic procedures over the last 10 years. He has performed over a thousand ACL Recontruction and meniscus surgeries alone, and has treated many national athletes with sports related knee, shoulder and elbow injuries with arthroscopic surgery.
Interested to learn more about arthroscopic (keyhole) meniscus repair for your condition? Call us at +65 6247 7958 to make an appointment to see Dr Andy Wee today!