The shoulder joint provides the most mobility of all the joints in the body.  The main component of the shoulder is the humeral head within the glenohumeral joint.  The increased mobility of the shoulder is secondary to its increased ligamentous laxity.  This laxity creates a greater potential for instability.  Shoulder injuries are common, especially among patients who challenge the shoulder’s extremes of motion. 

Rotator Cuff Injuries:

The rotator cuff is a term used to describe the four tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder joint.  Often these tendons can be bruised, partially torn, or completely torn.  A large percentage of people over the age of 50 have rotator cuff tears without significant symptoms.  Tears whether partial or complete do not always require surgery.  Patients with rotator cuff injuries may require injections to relieve pain and inflammation.  Physical therapy can be used to strengthen the injured shoulder.

For some patients rotator cuff injuries require surgery.  Repair of the rotator cuff may be done arthroscopically or by open techniques.  In arthroscopic surgery tiny incisions are made in the shoulder and a camera is used with small surgical tools to repair the damaged tendons. 

If rotator cuff damage and arthritis involving the shoulder joint is too severe a shoulder replacement is a better option.  A shoulder replacement removes the humeral head and replaces it with a metal head.  Your surgeon will decide if the capsule that holds the humeral head, glenohumeral joint space, should be replaced.  Patients will likely need physical therapy following shoulder surgery. 




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