Orthopaedic Surgery, Pain Management & Sports Medicine Specialists located in Santa Barbara, Solvang, & Oxnard, CA
Rotator cuff damage in your shoulder can be painful, disabling, and increase your risk of long-term problems like arthritis. If you have a rotator cuff tear, the Alta Orthopaedics team can help. With locations in Solvang and Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, California, their fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeons use both non-surgical therapies and minimally invasive surgery to treat rotator cuff injuries. Call Alta Orthopaedics today to schedule a consultation or use the online form to book an appointment.
Rotator Cuff Disease and Calcific Tendonitis Q & A
What is a rotator cuff?
The rotator cuff in your shoulder is a group of muscles and tendons that connects to the humerus (upper arm bone) and enables you to rotate and lift your arm. These muscles and tendons also help to stabilize your shoulder joint.
Rotator cuff injuries are a primary cause of shoulder pain and weakness that affect millions of people across the United States each year. In the degenerative type of rotator cuff tear, the initial phase of the injury often results from the bursa (a lining of tissue over the rotator cuff) rubbing against the acromion bone above it, which causes an inflammatory reaction.
A small or partial tear in a tendon can progress over time to become a large or complete tear.
Alternatively, the source of a rotator cuff tear may be acute, caused by an injury like a fall or pull. These usually occur in younger patients and lead to larger tears.
What symptoms can a rotator cuff injury cause?
Many patients experience symptoms such as:
- Pain when resting at night, particularly if lying down
- Pain when lifting and lowering your arm
- Weakness when lifting or rotating your arm
Shoulder pain from a rotator cuff injury is often due to inflammation. Tendinitis and bursitis both develop as a result of friction and result in intense and painful inflammation. The symptoms may be worse if your shoulder has spurs or sharp edges on the acromion bone.
Another rotator cuff disease that can cause intense shoulder pain is calcific tendinitis. This condition often comes on suddenly, triggering such severe pain it sends some patients to the emergency room.
Calcific tendonitis develops when calcium builds up in your shoulder's tendons, causing pain and stiffness that can last for months. It typically affects adults aged 30–50.
How are rotator cuff injuries and calcific tendonitis treated?
At Alta Orthopaedics, treatment of rotator cuff injuries and calcific tendonitis typically begins with conservative therapies such as:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
- Biologics such as PRP (platelet-rich plasma)
If surgery is necessary, your surgeon at Alta Orthopaedics may perform a rotator cuff clean up or repair. In rare cases where very large tears are irrepairable, the team might use grafts to replace the damaged parts of your rotator cuff or replace the shoulder bones to increase the joint's mobility.
Surgical treatment for calcific tendonitis may involve a calcium cleanup and debridement to get the calcium out of your rotator cuff tendon. This is sometimes performed by the orthopaedic surgeons at Alta Orthopaedics in the operating room and sometimes performed by other trained physicians using ultrasound guidance.
If you have shoulder pain from calcific tendonitis or rotator cuff disease, call Alta Orthopaedics today or book an appointment online.