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Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

What is Rotator Cuff Tendonitis?

The Rotator Cuff refers to the tendons and muscles that holds the shoulder joint in place with the upper arm and shoulder blade. Other structures affect the rotator cuff and these include a bursa which is a sac that lubricates the rotator cuff and is positioned under the end of the shoulder blade (acromion).

Inflammation of the tendons and bursa can occur, additionally the acromion can rub on the rotator cuff due to the narrowing caused by the inflammation of the surrounding tissues, bony lumps that may have formed or caused by degenerative disease.

The rotator cuff tendons due to wear and tear and repetitive stress can be torn either partially or completely ruptured.  Sports such as tennis and rowing, degeneration of the joint and age are contributing factors of these conditions.

Symptoms include pain, weakness in the arm, difficulty with full range of movement of the arm.

Diagnosis includes consultation by an experienced shoulder consultant with extensive physical examination. Diagnostic tests such as x-ray, ultrasound and MRI may also be needed.

Conservative treatment is encouraged. This includes initial rest from sporting activity, anti-inflammatory medication, ultrasound guided steroid injection and physiotherapy to help strengthen and improve movement in the shoulder. Recovery period can range from 6-12 weeks depending on the condition.

Surgery is necessary when symptoms have not improved with conservative treatment and it is difficult to carry out normal daily activities. Shoulder arthroscopy is a common procedure to treat many shoulder problems. Like arthroscopy of the knee and hip, a telescope is inserted into the shoulder joint and thin instruments are used to improve the shoulder joint. Rotator Cuff Repair will be necessary to join the torn tendons. Subacromial Decompression may be another procedure performed to treat shoulder impingement and this includes creating space around the rotator cuff. Removal of inflamed tissue, bony lumps/spurs and debridement of the shoulder joint may also be included. Recovery period can vary between patients and injury sustained. Patients will need to wear a sling to protect the shoulder when discharged from hospital. The wound will need to be checked in clinic after 2 weeks.  Physiotherapy is necessary for the recovery and patients are usually back at work between 2-6 weeks and enjoying life and playing sports between 3-6 months.

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