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Athletes and Rotator Cuff Injury

Athletes and Rotator Cuff Injury
Athletes and Rotator Cuff Injury

Many summer sports, like tennis and swimming, are prone to shoulder pain and injury.  In fact, two million patients visit a doctor for rotator cuff injuries each year and 250,000 get surgery each year in the US.  

The rotator cuff is comprised of 4 muscles in your shoulder and attaches your upper arm to your shoulder blade and helps you lift your arm. It is essentially responsible for stabilizing your shoulder joint. When torn, it weakens your shoulder and it can be painful to lift your arm.  Rotator cuff tears can happen suddenly or more commonly, they happen gradually over time with repetitive use. Although the risk of tears increases with age, rotator cuff injuries are most common with overhead motion such as tennis or baseball, swimming, football, weight lifting and volleyball.

Success of Rotator Cuff Surgery

Many rotator cuff tears can be treated non-surgically with rest, injections and physical therapy, which help strengthen your shoulder. But approximately 1/3 of rotator cuff tears do require surgery. Surgery reduces pain and helps restore function in your shoulder. The good news is that rotator cuff tears can be repaired arthroscopically. Arthroscopic surgery is an outpatient procedure that uses minimally invasive techniques to reattach the tendons to the bone.  Typically, minimally invasive techniques will expedite your recovery time.

Getting Back in the Game

Recovery from rotator cuff surgery depends on many factors including your injury and the size of the tear.  A full recovery for a rotator cuff repair can take 4 to 6 months to gain most of the function back. It could be longer before you participate in sports that require extensive shoulder motion.

Our shoulder specialist and orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Todd Moen, treats many athletes with rotator cuff injuries, “Athletes, especially those that have had a prior tear, should take steps such as daily stretching and strengthening exercises, to prevent further shoulder injuries.”



Source: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

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