The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that come together to form a covering around the head of the humerus. Tears can occur in one or more of areas of the rotator cuff, but does treatment vary depending on the location of the tear? Yes it does.
In recent years, there has been an increasing trend toward sub-specialization. In order to become an orthopaedic surgeon, for instance, one completes 4 years of medical school, followed by a 5 to 6 year residency program. In the past, most surgeons would then enter practice as a “generalist” and treat conditions all over the body such as foot problems, hand problems, hip problems, and shoulder problems.
Most people have heard of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is group of 4 shoulder muscles (subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and teres minor) that surround the ball and socket (glenohumeral) joint (Figure 1). The rotator cuff helps the shoulder move and provides stability to the ball and socket joint.
Most people will have shoulder pain at some point in their life. Fortunately, the majority of this is short-lived. However, some people will have chronic shoulder pain that lasts for months or years. As these individuals will likely attest, chronic shoulder pain can have a substantial impact on one’s mood, sleep, and quality of life.
As with advanced hip and knee arthritis, joint replacement (arthroplasty) is an option for patients who have continued pain and limited mobility despite non-operative treatment. In the United States shoulder arthroplasty is the 3rd most common joint replacement behind knee and hip replacement.
One of the most common questions for patients considering a shoulder replacement is “What can I expect?” This is a great question as people should know what they are getting into before considering a shoulder replacement. There are two parts to this.