Dr. Kevin Ko: What You Need to Know About Rotator Cuff Tears

Dr. Kevin Ko: What You Need to Know About Rotator Cuff Tears

Many NFL fans may have recently seen that Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers is going to undergo surgery for a rotator cuff tear later this month. Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common injuries encountered by a shoulder surgeon.

Rotator cuff tears can be caused by a traumatic injury, but more often are a result of wear and tear on a patient’s shoulder over their life time.Many patients cannot recall a specific event that led to their tear but do notice the progression of their symptoms.

Many patients are surprised to learn that the majority of rotator cuff tears do not require surgery.

The most common symptoms include:

Pain and weakness in the upper or outer shoulder that is worsened with overhead activitiesA clicking or cracking sound when you rotate and move itPain at night which can disrupt sleep

Treatment for rotator cuff tears depends on the specific patient, the size of the tear, the location of the tear, and the chronicity of the tear. Often times an MRI scan is needed to be able to evaluate these characteristics. Usually, conservative treatment measures can be attempted and are often successful at relieving pain and restoring function.

Rotator cuff tear Rotator cuff tear after repair

Occasionally, surgery may be indicated for patients. For most tears, surgery can be performed arthroscopically (minimally invasive) and in an outpatient setting.

The most difficult part of undergoing surgery is the rehabilitation afterwards. It takes great dedication from the patient to work through the rehab following rotator cuff surgery which can take 6 months or more. However, those who fully commit themselves to the recovery will be rewarded with an improved shoulder that will serve them for years into the future.

If you are having pain or weakness in your shoulder potentially related to a rotator cuff tear, it may be time to have it evaluated. Chances are that we will be able help you to get back to your life without having to go under the knife like Cam Newton.

– Kevin Ko, M.D.

Shoulder & Elbow specialist

Orthopedic Physician Associates

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