Rotator Cuff Tears

Rotator Cuff Disease is a spectrum of disease, ranging from Tendonitis, to Partial Thickness Tears, Full Thickness Tears, and a special form of arthritis known as Cuff Tear Arthropathy. The patient with a rotator cuff problem sometimes n a similar way to a frozen shoulder. In others it is due to an injury such as a fall or overuse injury. The symptoms are slightly different, as the pain is more pain on exertion or they may have a painful arc.

The rotator cuff is set of muscles, surrounding the shoulder capsule. The most commonly involved muscle is the Supraspinatus (See Fig 1-3). The treatment depends very much on the patient symptoms, size of tear etc.

For example if the symptoms are just a painful arc (Impingement Syndrome) and the scans are negative for a tear, then non operative treatment is often successful. This may involve a stretching programme, rest, anti inflammatory medication or even steroid injections.  If surgery is needed, it is relatively simple Day Surgery Arthroscopic Surgery in which some bone may be removed to reduce the friction and rubbing on the rotator cuff from the adjacent bone.

On the other hand if there is full thickness tear (Fig 1-2), the symptoms may be more of weakness and pain on overhead activity. In this case, a Surgical Repair of the Torn Supraspinatus Tendon may be needed. Steroid injections are not recommended as they mask the symptoms only and also may compromise the results of surgical repair.