Rotator Cuff Arthropathy

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Rotator cuff injuries are quite common to hear about. However, did you know you could develop a more severe condition if your rotator cuff injury is not treated? It is called rotator cuff arthropathy.
AdobeStock_451035542 1

Perhaps you currently have a rotator cuff injury that has not yet been repaired. Although rotator cuff arthropathy can be preventable, it is still commonly experienced by many.

At Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, our goal is to provide assistance before this condition develops. However, we are specialized in successfully treating rotator cuff arthropathy. Schedule an appointment at either our Atlanta or Marietta, GA office today to alleviate your shoulder pain.

What Is the Rotator Cuff?

Your rotator cuff consists of 4 muscles that stabilize your ball and socket joint as you move your shoulder. These muscles are called:

  1. Supraspinatus
  2. Infraspinatus
  3. Teres Minor
  4. Subscapularis

 

These muscles hold your humerus bone (your upper arm) in place at the scapula’s glenoid (the socket). These 4 muscles have tendons attached to them. When this group of muscles and tendons work together, they can support and stabilize your shoulder joint in place while giving you the ability to move and rotate your arm and shoulder.

However, sometimes rotator cuff tears may occur. This can happen due to a traumatic injury (such as a fall) or progressive overuse. Rotator cuff tears can come in various sizes. However, a minor tear that is not repaired can grow over time and become large enough to where it becomes very severe in nature.

At this point, the severity of the tear can cause your shoulder to lose stability and unbalance the shoulder’s normal mechanisms. If this injury goes untreated, it could lead to rotator cuff arthropathy.

What Is Rotator Cuff Arthropathy?

Rotator cuff arthropathy is a combination of a rotator cuff tear and shoulder arthritis. This specific and complex wear-and-tear form of shoulder arthritis develops after a rotator cuff tendon tears and remains unrepaired. 

Rotator cuff arthropathy is a degenerative process that can take years to develop. As the ball of your shoulder joint continues to sit in an incorrect alignment with the socket of your shoulder joint, an abnormal sliding motion will begin to occur.

Signs and Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Arthropathy

Generally, when we injure ourselves, our body will provide us with obvious signs that something is not right. The same is true if we are experiencing rotator cuff arthropathy. Some of these signs and symptoms include:

  • Your shoulder catching, locking, grinding, or popping as you attempt to move it
  • An inability or difficulty raising your arm above chest level and reaching behind your back
  • A noticeable and significant difference in strength between your two shoulders
  • Pain in and around your shoulder that may worsen at night
  • Shoulder weakness
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Muscular atrophy
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty lifting heavy objects

 

Do not delay seeking treatment if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

How Is Rotator Cuff Arthropathy Diagnosed?

To make the most accurate diagnosis of rotator cuff arthropathy, your specialist will first review and discuss your medical history. This will help them decipher whether your symptoms have been brought on by trauma or simply everyday wear and tear.

A comprehensive examination will then be completed. The strength of your muscles and your range of motion will be evaluated. In addition, X-rays or an MRI may be taken so that they can have a clear diagnostic look at your shoulder joint.

Rotator Cuff Arthropathy Treatment

At Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, our team is dedicated to providing you with a comprehensive treatment plan for rotator cuff arthropathy while using the least invasive techniques possible. We have had success in reducing pain and increasing shoulder functionality and range of motion by implementing these non-surgical methods:

  • Resting your affected arm and shoulder
  • Modifying your activity
  • Application of ice or cold packs to reduce inflammation and pain
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication
  • Cortisone injections
  • Therapy

 

Surgery may be recommended as a last resort if arthritis in your shoulder is at an advanced stage or if your shoulder is not responding to non-surgical methods. These surgery options may include:

  • Shoulder arthroscopy (non-invasive)
  • Shoulder replacement surgery
  • Rotator cuff repair
  • Reverse shoulder replacement surgery

 

While surgery is only recommended as a last resort, our professionals will provide you with high-quality care and address all your questions and concerns to make you feel more at ease.

Having an injury can be very stressful, which is why many people delay receiving treatment. However, over time, this can cause you even more damage. Schedule an appointment at one of our Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow offices in Atlanta or Marietta, GA today to get you on the right road to recovery!  

Medically reviewed by

Randall Alexander, MD