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Rotator Cuff Injuries: Causes, Prevention, & Treatment

July 15, 2015 11:59 AM with Dr. Mark Bowen

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The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that surround the shoulder joint. Rotator cuff injuries are one of the most common sources of shoulder pain. Dr. Mark Bowen, Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine at NorthShore, will take questions on rotator cuff injuries, from common causes, to methods of prevention and treatment options. Submit your questions now.

  Kathyn (Moderator) - 11:48 AM:
This chat is scheduled to begin at 12. You can submit questions now or at any point during the chat.

  Linda (Buffalo Grove, IL) - 12:02 PM:
How will I know when the time is right for shoulder surgery?
Dr. Mark Bowen (NorthShore)
It depends on the diagnosis and cause of your shoulder condition. For chronic conditions most people decide to pursue a surgical option when they are in life or activity changing pain or discomfort and have failed conservative measures.

  Melanie (Buffalo Grove, IL) - 12:05 PM:
Can a torn rotator cuff be healed with PT only and not surgery?
Dr. Mark Bowen (NorthShore)
If there is a full thickness tear therapy will not result in the tear healing, however, many people experience improvement in the pain and level of function and are satisfied.

  Lana (Terre haute in) - 12:08 PM:
I was diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury. I also have r.a. The treatment options my dr. gave were steroid injections or surgery. Do you believe surgery would be helpful?
Dr. Mark Bowen (NorthShore)
If you have a full thickness rotator cuff tear and your RA has not caused significant degeneration of the glenohumeral (shoulder)joint itself, then repairing the tear should lead to a successful result.

  Ashley (Chicago) - 12:11 PM:
I have a partial thickness rotator cuff tear. Does this require surgery?
Dr. Mark Bowen (NorthShore)
Many times surgery is not necessary. The decision usually comes down to the size and location of the tear, degree of symptoms and response to conservative treatments. Many people function well with small partial tears.

  Jodi (Northbrook, IL) - 12:14 PM:
Is there a safe and effective alternative injection for rotator cuff issues besides cortisone? I've seen an article about NSAID injections being having better efficacy and less side effects and am wondering if that treatment is being used by your practice and what your opinion is about it vs. cortisone.
Dr. Mark Bowen (NorthShore)
There are alternatives to cortisone injections but they are not commonly used. Toradol, an NSAID has been studied and has similar results to cortisone but is not used frequently, partly I suspect due to its availability. The effect of any injection may be temporary at best depending on the cause of the shoulder problem.

  ahmed (Bahrain) - 12:22 PM:
Hi. I have suffered from muscle fatigue for 6 months. Is there anything I can do to help my muscles heal?
Dr. Mark Bowen (NorthShore)
I would recommend you see your primary care doctor or internist to evaluate the potential causes of your condition further.

  Slim (Chicago il) - 12:24 PM:
I am right handed. I have had both rotator cuffs repaired. The left cuff remains weak with pain and has swelling, more so above the shoulders The right cuff is a bit better with the same only to a lesser degree What can I do with regards to both in general and the left in particular?
Dr. Mark Bowen (NorthShore)
If you continue to have symptoms after surgery and rehabilitation I would recommend further evaluation by your surgeon. Additional imaging may be necessary to assess the healing of your repairs.

  Kathryn (Moderator) - 12:27 PM:
We're coming to the end of our chat. We have time for one more question.

  Melanie (Buffalo Grove) - 12:28 PM:
How long is the recovery period for torn rotator cuff surgery, which I assume is arthiscopic (sp?)
Dr. Mark Bowen (NorthShore)
The recovery and pace of rehabilitation is determined to some extent by the size of the tear. Generally, most people are actively recovering and rehabilitating for 6 months or more. Most rotator cuff repairs are performed using arthroscopic techniques.

  Kathryn (Moderator) - 12:31 PM:
This will be the end of our chat today. Thank you everyone for your questions.

  Kathryn (Moderator) - 4:40 PM:
For more information on rotator cuff and other injuries, visit our NorthShore Sports Medicine page.
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