Rotator Cuff Tear

The Regenerative Medicine Clinic

Orthopaedic Surgeon & Molecular Immunobiologist located in Wilmington, NC

Rotator cuff tears are common, affecting as many as 2 million people every year in the United States. This type of injury can make it difficult for you to use your shoulder, which may significantly affect your quality of life. At The Regenerative Medicine Clinic in Wilmington, North Carolina, orthopedic surgeon and regenerative orthopedist, Austin Yeargan III MD, uses simple, natural treatments to heal your rotator cuff tear. For an in-office or telemedicine appointment, contact the office by phone or online today.

Rotator Cuff Tear

What is a rotator cuff tear?

Your rotator cuff is actually a cuff of tissue from four muscles that serves to keep your arm centered in the cup through your mid-range of motion.  The cuff made up of four muscles that come together to form a group of tendons that cover the top of your humerus (upper arm bone). Your rotator cuff is responsible for keeping your arm in your shoulder socket. The tough, fibrous tendon tissue also makes it possible for you to lift and rotate your arm. 

A rotator cuff tear refers to a tear in one or more of the tendons that make up your rotator cuff. This type of tear means the tendons are no longer fully attached to your humerus. Tears usually occur first on the underside of the tendon and are known as ‘partial thickness tendon tears’ (PTRCT)  These tend to progress and cause symptoms if not addressed. PTRCTs are an excellent indication for signaling cell treatments and we performed the first such treatment in the United States in 2006. The results from the first inception cohort of paitents we treated actually led to the development of the field of orthopedic immunobiologics as we know it today.  We even called it ‘stem cells’ back then before anyone really understood the immunobiology behind the treatment.

What causes a rotator cuff tear?

You can develop a rotator cuff tear after an injury or from degeneration of the tissue. Your rotator tear is classified based on the underlying cause, which includes:

Acute tear

An acute tear refers to a rotator cuff tear that occurs after an injury. You may tear the tissue after a fall onto an outstretched arm or from lifting something too heavy. 

Degenerative tear

Degenerative rotator cuff tears are more common than acute rotator cuff tears. As you get older, your rotator cuff begins become avascular in a watershed area due to the perfusion tree in the tendon.  As the tissue becomes more avascular it is more susceptible to injury and wears down mechanically and biochemically, making it more vulnerable to injury and additional tearing. 

You may be at greater risk of developing a degenerative rotator cuff tear if you engage in activities that require repetitive use of your shoulder, such as tennis or weight lifting or if you played or play elite level sports. 

What are rotator cuff tear symptoms?

Pain in your shoulder, whether at rest or when in use, is the most common symptom of a rotator cuff tear. Pain when lying on the shoulder during sleep is pathognomonic for rotator cuff disease.  You may also notice weakness in your arm and shoulder and experience a crackling sensation when you move your arm. Typically, symptoms are progressive and affect activities of daily living.

After an acute rotator cuff tear, the pain may be sudden and intense, making it difficult to miss. However, pain from a degenerative rotator cuff tear may be more of a chronic dull ache, and you may be more likely to ignore it as it progresses and worsens.

Continued use of your arm after you’ve torn your rotator cuff may worsen the injury and you may need to have your shoulder evaluated right away for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to prevent further damage. 

How is a rotator cuff tear treated?

Dr. Yeargan takes a simple and natural approach to the treatment of rotator cuff tears favoring the most conservative approach. Your treatment plan may include:

  • Rest
  • Activity modification
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physical therapy

If these measures fail to improve your rotator cuff tear, Dr. Yeargan may suggest regenerative medicine with signal cell treatments or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy or bone marrow signaling cells (Nanoplastytm). These injections may assist in healing the tear and prevent the need for more aggressive and oftentimes unnecessary invasive procedures, like open rotator cuff surgery.

For questions or concerns regarding the management of your rotator cuff tear, contact The Regenerative Medicine Clinic by phone or online today.