How are Rotator Cuff Injuries Treated?
Most rotator cuff injuries can initially be treated without surgery. The success of non-surgical treatment options depends on the type of rotator cuff injury (acute versus more established), the size of the tear as determined by the diagnostic tests, and the activities of the patient.
The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and strengthen the uninjured muscles around the shoulder to compensate for the torn or injured muscles or tendons. Some conditions may be easily treated with a combination of ice and heat, rest and diminished use of the shoulder for a determined amount of time. Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) can also help.
Some patients may require the assistance of a physical therapist to help strengthen the muscle and increase flexibility through a special exercise program. Dr. Padalecki may inject a steroid, such as cortisone, into the area of inflammation if the pain persists. The cortisone shot is designed to act only in the area where it is injected and has a potent anti-inflammatory effect.
The need to surgically repair a rotator cuff injury depends upon your age, activity level, and the severity of your injury. Dr. Padalecki strives to achieve maximum recovery with minimal surgery and often prefers an arthroscopic treatment approach. An arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is done through a series of small incisions. Dr. Padalecki utilizes a small camera to view the damaged tissue on a large television screen. He is then able to insert small instruments into the joint to achieve the repair. The advantage of arthroscopic surgery is that there is usually less pain and a faster return to normal activities.
A rehabilitation program will be prescribed at your first post-operative visit with Dr. Padalecki. This will usually entail a period of rest and minimal rehab to allow the repair to heal. After healing is achieved, a more aggressive regimen is prescribed with the goal of regaining motion and strength.
Rehabilitation after surgery is as important as the surgical repair itself. Without proper rehab, the chance of full recovery is diminished. Patients are advised to be good to the shoulder as the rotator cuff heals by avoiding extra and unnecessary physical stress.
For more information on rotator cuff injuries, such as a rotator cuff tear, please contact the office of Dr. Jeff Padalecki, shoulder specialist in Austin, Texas.