How to Diagnose a Rotator Cuff Injury
In order to determine the severity and thus the proper treatment of a rotator cuff injury, Dr. Boykin will perform a complete examination of the shoulder by assessing range of motion, strength, and muscle loss in addition to reviewing X-rays. Specific tests for rotator cuff injuries include the Jobe test, Lift off sign, Belly press test, and the Hornblower sign. After the initial examination, Dr. Boykin will most likely order a MRI to confirm the diagnosis, visualize the extent of injury, and determine the quality of the muscle.
Following a diagnosis of the injury, Dr. Boykin will present a patent with their treatment options. The best treatment option for a rotator cuff injury is dependent upon the severity and nature of the injury. The ultimate goal is to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with the tear and restore function to the shoulder. Rotator cuff tendonitis is first treated with non-operative measures including rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and potentially an injection of corticosteroids. Partial thickness tears, small full thickness tears, and chronic tears may also be first treated with conservative measures.
Treatment Options for a Rotator Cuff Injury
If non-surgical treatment methods do not prove to be beneficial or in the cases of acute full thickness tears Dr. Boykin may recommend surgery. Dr. Boykin will present the options and discuss which surgical treatment will benefit the patient by taking into account the age, lifestyle, and goals of the patient.
If a decision for surgery is made, arthroscopic surgery for the rotator cuff will likely be performed through a number of small incisions through which Dr. Boykin will insert a camera and special surgical instruments in order to repair the tearing. Arthroscopic shoulder surgery allows a quicker recovery and less post-operative pain than open techniques.
In more severe cases, Dr. Boykin will may need to make an open incision and will repair the damage to the shoulder. This surgery is performed if the damage requires a more extensive or different type of repair than can be accomplished through an arthroscopic approach.