A rotator cuff is a class of four tendons that function as the primary stabilizers for the shoulder joint. They attach to the humerus (upper arm bone) and insert into the glenoid fossa (where it meets up with the scapula).
Partial rotator cuff tears are tears in the rotator cuff tendon. This small, thick tendon connects your shoulder to your arm bone (the humerus). The rotator cuff tendon helps stabilize your shoulder and keep it from moving too far forward or backward during movement. When this tendon tears, it can cause pain and weakness in your shoulder.
What Causes Partial Rotator Cuff Tears?
A partial rotator cuff tear can be caused by injury or overuse. Injuries include motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and falls on the job. Overuse conditions include repetitive overhead work such as working at a computer or lifting weights with incorrect technique.
While there are many causes for partial rotator cuff tears, including overuse injuries like tennis elbow or football shoulder, genetics also play a role in their development. Some people may have genetic abnormalities that cause them to be more susceptible to developing partial rotator cuff tears than others who do not have these congenital abnormalities.
A partial tear is often not painful or noticeable until it becomes severe enough to cause pain with movement and weakness in your shoulder. Several treatment options are available for partial rotator cuff tears, including physical therapy, cortisone injections, exercise programs, and surgery. Your doctor will determine which treatment option is best for you based on your age, health status, and severity.
The tears are usually small and do not require surgical repair. However, if the signs and pain persist for more than six months, you should consult your doctor to rule out other causes like arthritis or tendonitis.
How Can Biologics Be Used to Repair Partial Rotator Cuff Tears?
Biologics is a type of medicine injected into the body to treat or prevent a particular condition. There are different types of biologics, but they all work similarly. They are microscopic particles that stimulate the body’s immune system to heal damaged tissue. Biologics can be administered through injection or mouth.
Biologics are an alternative to traditional surgery for partial rotator cuff tears. They have several advantages:
- They reduce the risk of infection because they do not require incisions or stitches
- They do not require general anesthesia and can be done as an outpatient procedure
- There is less pain associated with a biologic procedure than with traditional surgery
A biologics procedure can be used to repair a partial rotator cuff tear by strengthening the weakened tendon with tissue growth factors (TGF) and fibroblast growth factors (FGF). These growth factors help repair damaged structures with new collagen fibers, which help strengthen weak tendons and restore flexibility to injured tendons.
Is the Procedure Outpatient?
The procedure is an outpatient one done under local anesthesia. Recovery from a biologics procedure takes about four weeks but can vary based on your case.
It’s not uncommon for people to think that they have “normal” or “minor” torn rotator cuffs—after all, it’s not something you see every day! But this isn’t necessarily true: there are many types of partial tears, some with more significant symptoms than others.
The Integrative Spine & Sports team is an expert in providing care to those who will benefit from orthobiologics and cellular therapy to treat their injuries. If you experience pain, fill out the form below to contact our team.