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Rotator Cuff Specialist in Atlanta, GA

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

While pain in your shoulder may not sound serious, it is often debilitating. Your shoulder, along with the rotator cuff, is needed to perform simple everyday tasks. If you feel discomfort when you reach upward, you may have an impingement or another rotator cuff injury.
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Rotator cuff pain occurs when you engage your shoulder in any upward motions. The pain can be a result of bone making contact with your rotator cuff. We’re going to take a look at the symptoms, diagnostics, and treatment options for rotator cuff injuries. 

If you suspect you may have a rotator cuff tear, contact one of our Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow specialists. We have physicians in Atlanta and Marietta that can help diagnose your problem. Our orthopedic specialists will work to find the least invasive way to relieve your pain. 

What Is Your Rotator Cuff?

Your rotator cuff is composed of tendons and muscles. Your rotator cuff muscles and tendons work together to stabilize your shoulder joint and allow you to move your shoulder. 

Common Injuries to Your Rotator Cuff

Some of the most common rotator cuff injuries include:

  • Tendonitis
  • Rotator cuff tear 
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome (when the outer edge of your shoulder blade pinches your rotator cuff beneath it)

 

Make sure to check with a specialist to confirm the origin of your pain. 

Reasons Why Rotator Cuff Tears Occur

The most common reason why a rotator cuff tear occurs is due to your tendon wearing down with age and through use. Additionally, an accident that results in a dislocated shoulder or a broken collarbone can cause a tear. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury?

There are several different types of rotator cuff injuries. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Pain that feels like a long-lasting ache in your shoulder.
  • Sharp pain occurs when you reach upward or behind your back.
  • Shoulder pain when lifting heavy objects. 
  • Lack of mobility.
  • Muscle loss in the affected arm.
  • Inability to sleep or put pressure on the injured side.
  • Stiffness.
  • Grinding or popping sounds from the shoulder area.

 

If you’re experiencing one or more of the symptoms above, it may be time to see your doctor. If left untreated, your pain could become worse over time. 

Thankfully, shoulder discomfort doesn’t always mean surgical intervention is needed. The right orthopedic specialists will help you determine a plan to alleviate your discomfort. 

How Is a Rotator Cuff Tear Evaluated?

A rotator cuff tear is evaluated according to the type and severity of symptoms. The first step in evaluation will be a full medical history and a physical exam. A medical history will tell your provider if this type of injury is common in your family. 

Your specialist will likely ask you detailed questions about the pain to help them determine the problem. Once your doctor has a better idea of the issue, they’ll examine the area to identify if certain tendons or inner structures have obvious damage. 

Your doctor may order an X-ray or MRI of your shoulder. The results from an X-ray or MRI should reveal the extent of your injury, ensuring an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Non-Invasive Treatment Options

Treatment options for your discomfort will vary depending on the severity of your injury.

At Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, we do our best to make sure that your treatment is the least invasive treatment possible.

Below you’ll find a list of non-invasive ways that we can treat your shoulder pain:

  • Rest the joint to allow time for healing. 
  • Apply cold packs or ice to reduce inflammation and pain in the shoulder. 
  • Take medication to alleviate pain and inflammation. 
  • Physical/occupational therapy to regain mobility and muscle (orthopedic physical therapy can also assist in managing symptoms from chronic rotator cuff tears).
  • Cortisone injections to take away inflammation and curb pain.

 

When Is Surgery Recommended? 

If your rotator cuff tear or injury doesn’t respond to the treatments listed above, surgery may be recommended. Sometimes rotator cuff tears are too badly damaged to heal on their own, even with non-invasive treatments. 

How Is Surgery Performed? 

Most rotator cuff tear surgeries can be performed arthroscopically. Arthroscopic surgery entails small incisions made to the shoulder. Your surgeon will use a camera to examine the tendons, rotator cuff, and other surrounding structures.

Once the damaged tissue is identified, they’ll repair it efficiently. The arthroscopic approach minimizes healing time and leaves almost no scarring. 

In severe cases, rotator cuff tear surgery may require an open incision to reach damaged structures inside your shoulder. If this is the case, our specialists will walk you through the procedure. 

Postoperative Treatment

Postoperative treatment is paramount in ensuring a good outcome. We’ll work closely with your physical/occupational therapist to track your healing process.

At Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, we specialize in diagnosing and treating rotator cuff tears and other shoulder injuries. Our specialists have convenient locations in Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia. Contact us to schedule a consultation today!

Medically reviewed by

Randall Alexander, MD