SERIOUS INJURIES – Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator Cuff Injuries – It is not uncommon to sustain shoulder pain after a motor vehicle accident or a bad trip and fall. If your symptoms include pain, weakness, and decreased range of motion of your shoulder, you should be evaluated by your family physician or an orthopedic surgeon for a possible rotator cuff injury.

To help in your diagnosis the following procedures may be recommended by your doctor:

  • A routine x-ray examination
  • Arthrography of glenohumeral joint
  • Ultrasound
  • A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Many patients can be treated conservatively. Non-operative therapy consists of rest and activity modification, shoulder sling, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroid injections, and a basic shoulder-strengthening program.

Patients who do not improve with conservative treatment may be a candidate for surgery. In general, many physicians believe surgery is indicated in patients younger than 60 years with a full-thickness tear demonstrated clinically or arthrographically, in patients who fail to improve after 6 weeks of rehabilitation, or in patients performing activity that requires shoulder use.

However, if an accident victim sustains a rotator cuff tear, then immediate surgery may be warranted because people who sustain an acute or recent injury to the shoulder have poor prognosis if conservative modalities are used. The success rate of surgical therapy is reported to be 77-86%.

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