Rotator cuff injuries are common, especially among people who perform overhead motions repeatedly at work or when participating in hobbies. Dominique Nickson, MD of Next Step Orthopedics is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who has significant experience in the treatment of rotator cuff injuries. This service is available to patients throughout McKinney, Texas and surrounding areas including Frisco, Allen, Plano and Prosper, Texas.

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What is the rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder and hold its components in place. A rotator cuff injury occurs when a tendon in the rotator cuff tears or is otherwise damaged.

What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear?

Most patients with a rotator cuff tear will experience pain located deep in the shoulder. This pain is usually experienced as a dull ache that may disturb the patient’s sleep, especially if the patient lies on the affected shoulder. In some cases, the shoulder pain from a rotator cuff tear will be accompanied by weakness in the arm, a reduced range of motion, and a cracking sensation with certain movements.

What causes a rotator cuff tear?

In some cases, a rotator cuff tear may occur because of a trauma to the shoulder, such as an impact. In other cases, patients may develop a rotator cuff tear when the patient overuses the shoulder, which leads to a progressive degeneration of the tendon tissue. Patients who frequently engage in repetitive overhead activity may be at a higher risk of developing a rotator cuff tear.

How does Dr. Nickson diagnose this condition?

Dr. Nickson begins evaluating a patient for a possible rotator cuff tear by performing an examination of the shoulder. During this examination, he may move the shoulder gently to determine which motions cause the patient’s pain. Dr. Nickson will also review the patient’s medical history, ask relevant questions, and order any necessary tests to confirm the diagnosis.

What treatments are available?

Dr. Nickson always favors conservative treatments over surgery. Nonsurgical treatments for a rotator cuff tear include resting the shoulder, limiting the movement of the shoulder, and physical therapy. However, if these conservative treatment measures don’t effectively eliminate the patient’s pain, Dr. Nickson may recommend surgery. In most cases, he will recommend a minimally-invasive arthroscopic procedure to patients with this condition.

What other rotator cuff injuries can occur?

In some cases, patients may experience pain and limitations in the rotator cuff because of tendinitis instead of a tear. Tendinitis occurs when a tendon in the rotator cuff becomes inflamed. Dr. Nickson can diagnose tendinitis and help patients recover from this painful condition.