Baseball’s Most Notorious Injury — the Torn Rotator Cuff
- Posted on: Jul 15 2019
Summertime In Texas there’s no shortage of games on the diamond. If you’ve ever played any competitive baseball or softball you’ve no doubt come across someone with a damaged rotator cuff. It may be a hard-throwing baseball pitcher, or a softball shortstop whose summer slate of 200+ games is just too much on his or her shoulder. The injury can be chronic, recurring every summer and calming down over the winter, or it can be acute and require surgery.
Either way, our team at Urgent Orthopedic Specialists has extensive experience and expertise in the treatment of rotator cuff injuries, whether that treatment involves rehabilitation or surgery.
What is the rotator cuff?
The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in the shoulder whose job is to connect the upper arm bone (humerus) to the shoulder blade. The muscles in the area allow the shoulder to rotate, while the tendons provide stability. Together, they form a cuff around the humerus.
What are some common rotator cuff injuries?
- Rotator cuff tendinitis — If you use your arm or arms over your head for activities such as throwing, spiking a volleyball, serving a tennis ball, or even painting, this can strain the rotator cuff. Rest, ice, and pain relievers can usually solve the problem.
- Rotator cuff tears — A tear can happen immediately, such as when a pitcher tries to really snap off a curveball, but is usually the result of a rotator cuff that has been weakened by age or wear and tear. Pain and arm weakness are the symptoms.
- Rotator cuff impingement — Here the tendons of the rotator cuff are squeezed between the humerus and a nearby bone called the acromion. Symptoms are similar to tendinitis.
- Frozen shoulder — The humerus adheres to the shoulder blade, causing shoulder pain and stiffness. Rest and exercise can resolve this, or sometimes steroid injections.
- Subacromial bursitis — This involves inflammation of the small sac of fluid that cushions the rotator cuff tendons from the acromion bone.
Diagnosing the problem
Dr. Floyd and Dr. Rowland employ a variety of available tests when diagnosing rotator cuff injuries. These can involve MRIs, CT scans, x-rays, ultrasound, or arthrograms (where dye is injected into the shoulder and x-rays taken). These are in addition to physical examination, and possible painful arc testing (testing motion and pain as the arm is raised above 90 degrees upward).
To address your rotator cuff injury, we may first employ pain medication or corticosteroid injections. These will usually be combined with physical therapy. If this regimen doesn’t solve your issues, Dr. Floyd or Dr. Rowland may use arthroscopic or traditional surgery.
If you have any of the above-listed symptoms of rotator cuff injury, please give us a call at (432) 520-3020 and let’s take a look.