Thanks to recent advances, shoulder surgery is now a no-brainer for many patients with rotator cuff injuries.
Does your shoulder hurt when you are styling your hair? When reaching for objects? Or at night, especially if you are a side sleeper? You may have a rotator cuff injury. These are typical symptoms of a common shoulder condition that can affect people of all ages and activity levels.
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that merge into tendons that surround the shoulder joint, helping it to move. Injuries can occur at any age, and typically tend to show after age 40. More than a quarter of all people over age 60 have some type of rotator cuff tear – and by age 70, 65% of people have one, caused either by gradual wear and tear, or from a more traumatic injury in which one of the tendons tears partially or completely away from the bone.
Unfortunately, many of these conditions go undiagnosed, causing patients to dismiss or live with pain that can be easily treated with newer techniques and innovations for speedier healing and quicker recoveries.
Determining the Type of Injury
Finding out if you have a rotator cuff issue is straightforward. An orthopedic specialist will conduct a physical exam, including medical history, and order imaging (X-rays, MRI) to provide a detailed look at your shoulder and the surrounding tendons.
If an issue is found, the doctor will usually prescribe medications, injections, and/or physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the joint, helping to provide support and relieve pain. If this first line of defense doesn’t work, they may suggest a minimally invasive surgery to reattach the tendon(s) back to the bone.
A Gentler Surgery with Better Healing
The good news is that rotator cuff surgery is highly successful, helped by new technology and techniques that improve the rates of healing and lowering the risk of a repeat tear and second surgery. In many cases, patients go home the same day. There have also been recent advances to promote and accelerate tendon healing after surgery such as:
Platelet Rich Plasma – Prior to the procedure, physicians will take some of the patient’s blood, put it in a centrifuge, and derive a platelet-rich plasma solution that is then injected into the surgical site during the procedure. Platelets, one type of blood cell, contain growth factors that can trigger cell growth, speed healing and stimulate tissue regeneration in the treated area.
Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate – In this regenerative therapy, cells from a patient’s bone marrow are extracted, prepared and then injected into the surgical site to supply a rich supply of growth factors that initiates healing. The early data on this technique is promising and shows improved healing and lower rates of repeat surgeries.
Hope for Even the Most Hopeless Cases
For those who have an older rotator cuff tear, a previous ineffective surgery, or were told the problem can’t be fixed through surgery, it may be time to get a second opinion. The following techniques can successfully help those with chronic, severe rotator cuff problems:
Superior Capsule Construction - In another exciting development, we are now using technology that allows us to reconstruct the rotator cuff by taking dermal tissue from a cadaver and grafting it to correct defects. This is ideal for situations where we need to augment degenerated tissue.
Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty – This type of shoulder replacement is considered to be one of the most significant technological advancements in shoulder reconstructive surgery over the past several decades. This type of surgery uses implants to reconstruct the shoulder socket to decrease pain, improve mobility and quality of life.
When it comes to solutions for rotator cuff injuries and pain, help is not far away. At White Plains Hospital, there is a proven technique for everyone. You don’t need to put up with the pain and loss of quality of life any longer.