Rotator cuff problems are very common, and surgery is not always required to repair them. If you are experiencing shoulder pain, make an appointment with Dr. Stephen Soffer, who serves patients throughout the Reading, PA area and beyond, to learn about your treatment options.
Dr. Stephen Soffer is a board certified orthopedic surgeon in Wyomissing who specializes in arthroscopy and the treatment of many sports-related injuries, as well as the open and arthroscopic treatment of knee, shoulder and elbow injuries. He also performs artificial joint replacement for arthritis of the knee, shoulder and hip.
Diagnosing Rotator Cuff Problems
The rotator cuff is a group of four small muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. It allows your shoulder to move in different ways (such as lifting or rotating), and also holds the upper arm bone (humerus) in place in the joint.
Rotator cuff problems can be the result of inflammation, wear and tear of the tendons, arthritis, or a single traumatic event, such as a fall. Many athletes involved in sports that require repetitive overhead movements, such as baseball, weightlifting, tennis, swimming and rowing, often develop problems with their rotator cuffs.
Symptoms may be gradual and include:
— pain or tenderness of the shoulder joint
— clicking or catching of the shoulder joint
— loss of normal shoulder rotation
— shoulder weakness or stiffness
— pain when reaching behind the back
To diagnose a rotator cuff problem, Dr. Soffer will talk to you and examine your shoulder, moving it in various directions to evaluate the range of motion, strength and overall function. He may also suggest a shoulder x-ray or possibly an ultrasound scan or MRI.
Rotator Cuff Treatment Options
Once Dr. Soffer determines what is causing the shoulder problems, he will discuss the many treatment options available.
Irritation or inflammation of the rotator cuff tendon may be the result of tendonitis, also called impingement syndrome, which is the most common cause of shoulder pain. Non-surgical treatment includes rest, limiting overhead activity, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy. These treatments often lead to full recovery.
Sometimes the rotator cuff tendon will suffer a mild (partial) or full (complete) tear. If conservative treatments do not provide relief, surgery may be recommended. Partial tears may need only a debridement (shaving) procedure, while complete tears in the tendon are often repaired by suturing the tendon back together.
Rotator Cuff Surgery
Depending on the size, shape and location of the tear, minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery is the most common way to repair rotator cuff problems. Dr. Soffer uses the latest arthroscopy techniques which give him the ability to view the entire shoulder joint on a TV monitor and repair a tear through several small incisions. The procedure typically takes less than one hour, and Dr. Soffer is skilled at making it as relaxed and comfortable as possible.
Open surgery through a larger incision may occasionally be necessary to repair a large rotator cuff tear. However, surgical decisions are based on each patient’s individual circumstances, such as the type of tear, the patient’s age and level of activity, response to less invasive treatment, and the time of the season for athletes. Dr. Soffer’s primary goal is to return the shoulder to normal as quickly as possible.
All rotator cuff tears are not created equal. If you have shoulder pain or weakness, it’s important to see an orthopedic sports medicine specialist like Dr. Soffer for repair before the problem worsens. For rotator cuff treatment in the Reading, PA area, call us at 610-375-4949 to schedule an appointment.