A torn rotator cuff can cause significant pain, disrupting the ability to do everyday activities. This common injury occurs to millions of individuals each year. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that surround and cover the top of the arm bone (humerus), keeping it centered within the shoulder socket. These muscles and tendons assist in helping you move the arm smoothly and with coordination. 

A portion of the rotator cuff tendons pass through a narrow area in the shoulder between two bones. If one of those bones develops a sharp edge or spur, this can squeeze or put pressure on the rotator cuff tendon, causing pain. It is believed that these spurs can abrade the tendon and lead to slow tearing over time. 

What is a Bone Spur?

Bone spurs are bony growths that grow along the edges of bones. Sometimes these spurs have sharp edges to them. Also called osteophytes, these growths can affect mobility and cause general discomfort. In this particular area in the shoulder, these bone spurs restrict the space and movement of the rotator cuff tendons.

Doctors and therapists use the term “impingement” to describe pain in the shoulder that comes from when bone spurs put pressure on the rotator cuff tendons. Usually, this is the first stage of rotator cuff problems and is often treated with anti-inflammatory medication, exercise and physical therapy.

There is some debate about whether or not these spurs actually lead to tears or if the tendons tear simply due to aging and overuse. Frequently, however, these spurs are removed during the process of a rotator cuff repair surgery if the doctor is already working in that area, to decrease the likelihood of retearing.

Rotator Cuff Tear Symptoms

Shoulder discomfort is the most common symptom of rotator cuff issues, especially, at night and with reaching or overhead activities. Sometimes this pain radiates down the side of the arm or bicep. Sometimes patients notice weakness instead of pain and flicking or popping frequent. Most of the time, the pain is not constant but is sporadic during or after activities.

It is important to note that the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear can also be caused by other issues. If pain is not improving after a brief period of rest, it’s advised to seek medical attention. Talk with a doctor, such as Dr. Steven Goldberg, to find the correct diagnosis and treatment plan for your condition. For more severe rotator cuff tears, arthroscopic rotator cuff repair surgery is performed. 

Schedule a Consultation

To learn more about rotator cuff surgery and whether it is right for you, check out real patient reviews and schedule a consultation with Dr. Goldberg at Naples Orthopedic today. You can schedule a consultation at our Naples, Florida, location by filling out the online contact form on our website.