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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Rotator Cuff - An Often Overlooked Part of Your Body

What is a rotator cuff?

A set of muscles and tendons in your shoulder are making up your rotator cuff. Both of them are connected to the shoulder bone. The ball of the upper arm bone is held firmly in the shoulder socket by these muscles and tendons. And like the word lets us know already (rotator), if in proper working order will help you rotate your shoulder without much effort or pain.

Rotator cuff injuries

If you start feeling irritation or pain in this area it could be the result of a rotator cuff injury. These injuries can occur in people of any age and gender. Most younger people with rotator cuff injuries get it from repeated overhead activities or overuse of the muscles that are connected to the shoulder bone. In older people it mostly starts with gradual shoulder pain going down the upper arm and across and up the neck. Most injuries are a tear of ether tendons or muscles or both or an inflammation of the tendons which is called tendinitis or tendinopathy.

What to do if you think you rotator cuff is injured?

If the pain is unbearable and does not go away after a period of time you should definitely go see a doctor. A MRI can most likely shed light on what kind of injury you got and help with the treatment. What you can do to help, is cool the area with ice to help with the inflammation and keep swelling at a minimum. Sometimes alternating between heat (to relax the muscles) and ice for the inflammation is also helpful.

Your doctor may give you steroid injections to help with the inflammation. He also may prescribe physical therapy. But this is different from case to case. In some instances you may have to rest you arm in a sling. The worst case scenario is that you need an operation.

What if you need an operation?

If you need surgery, you should see if you can get it done as an arthroscopic surgery rather than an open surgery. The arthroscopic surgery requires a lot smaller incisions than the open surgery. Which therefor makes the patient have fewer risks and also speeds up the recovery time. The technique of the arthroscopic surgery is that the surgeon is using small instruments that almost look like pens. On the end of them is a small video camera that the surgeon uses during the procedure to guide his instruments. The incision will be the size of a buttonhole.

In any case, you shouldn't wait too long before you are going to take action if you feel any pain in your shoulders or in the areas described above. As earlier you go and have it checked as better and faster are your recovery chances.

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