Men's Articles

Speaking Of The Cuff

A rotator cuff tear is a common cause of pain and disability among adults. It occurs when one or more rotator cuff tendons become inflamed from overuse, ageing, a fall on an outstretched hand, or a collision. The rotator cuff comprises tendons and four shoulder muscles that form a sleeve-like structure over the upper end of the arm. The rotator cuff helps to lift and rotate the arm and to stabilize the ball of the shoulder within the joint.

As we age, the tendons degenerate as they undergo years of wear and tear. Rotator cuff tears occur in 30 to 40 per cent of patients over 60 years of age. Sports which require repeated overhead arm motion or jobs that involves heavy lifting also place a strain on the rotator cuff tendons and muscles. Constant wear may lead to tear.

Those Who Are Likely To Suffer From This Injury Include

  • People whose work requires them to reach overhead to perform their duties, like painters, stockroom workers, construction workers.

  • Swimmers

  • Pitchers and bowlers (in baseball, softball, cricket)

  • Tennis players

The Causes For This Injury Include

  • Acute: Usually follows trauma such as an injury caused by lifting an object or a fall on the affected arm. There may be a sudden acute pain, a snapping sensation and an immediate weakness of the arm.

  • Gradual onset: More common. Caused by repetitive overhead activity or by wear and degeneration of the tendon. Initially occurs in the front of the shoulder and radiates down the side of the arm. Pain is mild at first and present only during overhead activities such as reaching or lifting. Over time, the pain becomes noticeable even during times of rest or no activity. Other symptoms include stiffness and loss of motion. Sufferers of rotator cuff tear find it difficult doing even the simplest everyday activity like combing their hair.

The Symptoms For This Injury Include

  • Atrophying or thinning of the shoulder muscles

  • Pain when you lift your arm

  • Pain when you lower your arm from a fully raised position

  • Weakness when you lift or rotate your arm

  • Crepitus or crackling sensation when you move your shoulder in certain positions.

The Treatment For This Injury

There are several non-surgical treatments, which may take weeks or months to restore the strength and mobility to the shoulder.

  • Rest and limited overhead activity

  • The use of a sling

  • Anti-inflammatory medication

  • Steroid injection

  • Strengthening exercise and physical therapy

Surgery Is Recommended If

  • Non-operative treatment does not relieve the symptoms

  • The tear is acute and painful

  • It is the dominant arm of an active individual

  • Maximum strength in the arm is needed fro overhead work or sports

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