The rotator cuff is described as a group of tendons in the shoulder that are responsible for stabilizing the shoulder. The rotator cuff is comprised of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus and subscapularis as well as the teres minor muscles.
The rotator cuff tendons can weaken and susceptible to be frayed or damaged especially with age. As a result, shoulder pain, swelling in the shoulder joint and diminished shoulder motion can occur. In most cases, conservative treatment options are required. On the other hand, surgical intervention might be required in some cases. The elderly as well as those who are involved in high-intensity sports must determine the possible causes of a torn or frayed rotator cuff.
Work-related injuries that involve overhead lifting, sports injuries involving excessive upper-arm movement as well as traumatic injuries such as vehicular accidents can lead to a frayed rotator cuff.
The fraying typically occurs due to the excessive force placed on the rotator cuff that increases the stress in the tendons and cause tears on the tendon fibers. It is important to note that this type of injury generally results to symptoms such as acute onset of pain, limited mobility and swelling in the shoulder.
Elderly individuals face the highest risk for a frayed rotator cuff. Remember that this occurs due to wear-and-tear of the shoulder over time which weakens the rotator cuff tendons and makes them likely to tear or fray in the future. The usual rotator cuff tear occurs on the supraspinatus. In such cases, conservative treatment options are usually recommended unless the individual is required to use the affected shoulder for overhead movements.
In case the individual can perform normal functions of daily life, surgery is not needed. On the other hand, a proper treatment plan should be designed in order to completely relieve the symptoms of the frayed rotator cuff.
It is important to note that shoulder impingement has been considered as a usual cause of a frayed rotator cuff. After some time, the bone spurs develop beneath the shoulder blade and are likely to rub against the rotator cuff tendons, particularly when the individual elevates his/her arm.
The constant rubbing action of the rotator cuff tendons would surely lead to the weakening of the tendons and causes them to fray or tear which increases the risk for tears in the future. The rotator cuff tendon have the ability to heal on their own with adequate rest, thus conservative treatment for shoulder impingement are needed.
In case large bone spurs are present in the shoulder, surgical intervention might be needed in order to eliminate the bone spurs to prevent impingement in the future. The surgery is called as acromioplasty and the potential risks and benefits should be discussed with a doctor.