The rotator cuff is a complex network of muscles and tendons which stabilize the shoulder joint. As its name suggests, it allows you to rotate and raise the shoulder and is thus critical to the functionality of your arm. Injuries to the rotator cuff can cause pain and affect your daily life, and if they’re bad enough, may require surgery. Today, many are exploring another alternative to surgery: stem cell therapy.
A Closer Look at Rotator Cuff Injuries
The rotator cuff can experience a partial tear or a complete tear. A partial tear occurs when the muscles that make up the cuff fray become torn, but if the damage extends through the muscle, the tear is considered complete. The tendon could pull away from the bone if left unaddressed.
Surprisingly, you won’t always experience pain with a rotator cuff tear. In fact, in 65% of cases, rotator cuff tears are considered asymptomatic. With that being said, there are still signs outside of discomfort that could indicate this shoulder problem, including:
- Weakness throughout the shoulder or arm
- Popping sounds or other unusual noises when moving your shoulder
- Diminished ability lifting or using your arm (to wash your hair, for instance)
- Pain only upon moving your arm a certain way or while lying on it
- Difficulty reaching certain directions, such as up, out to the side, or behind you
Causes of Rotator Cuff Injuries
Rotator cuff tears are fairly common. An estimated two million people visit the doctor for this injury each year, though the prevalence could be much higher due to tears that go unnoticed.
Many circumstances could lead to a tear, with the most common being:
- Repetitive use due to the nature of your work, such as scanning groceries, painting windows, or cleaning
- Sports, such as baseball, tennis, or football
- Wear and tear on the muscles that come with aging
- Heavy lifting
- Injury to the arm
Rotator Cuff Injury Treatment
Rotator cuff injuries must first be accurately diagnosed before you can explore treatment options. Your doctor may use an x-ray or MRI to identify the injury. From there, they may recommend traditional treatments such as physical therapy or corticosteroid injections. Surgery could also be an option depending on the severity of your tear, but understandably, many patients wish to avoid invasive procedures.
Some patients may be good candidates for stem cell therapy. This form of treatment is much less invasive than surgery, and instead uses natural healing agents (stem cells) to repair tissue, accelerate healing, and combat inflammation. The cells can even regenerate damaged tissue, allowing your shoulder to heal itself naturally. Studies for this treatment have shown promising results, such as an increase in biomechanical strength and reduced inflammation. Thus, for patients whose rotator cuff injury has begun to affect their daily lives but surgery is undesirable, stem cell therapy is a treatment option worth considering. Contact a care coordinator today!