Your rotator cuff consists of four muscles that envelop your shoulder blade and hold the head of your humerus (the bone that extends from your shoulder to your elbow) in your shoulder socket. It allows you to lift your arm and rotate your shoulder.
One group of people who use their rotator cuffs disproportionately are baseball players — especially pitchers. This overuse means they injure their rotator cuffs frequently as well.
Fortunately, Struan Coleman, MD, PhD has a great deal of training and expertise in treating rotator cuff tears. Not only is he a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Coleman belongs to the American College of Sports Medicine and is the team physician for the New York Mets baseball club.
These distinctions uniquely qualify him for treating injuries that typically plague baseball players, although he offers a wide range of services for athletes and non-athletes alike.
Rotator cuff injuries are widespread
Rotator cuff injuries strike a staggering 2-4 million individuals each year. Although many injuries heal on their own with rest and home treatment, some require more monitoring and intervention.
If you experience any of these symptoms, you likely have a rotator cuff tear or other shoulder injury:
- Shoulder weakness
- Inability to lift your arm above the shoulder
- Shoulder pain that worsens at night or when performing certain activities
- Muscle weakness
- Popping or clicking sounds when you move your shoulder
These symptoms pose problems for anyone, but if you’re a baseball enthusiast and spend a lot of time on the field, they can bench you indefinitely.
Can my rotator cuff injury be treated so I can play baseball again?
Dr. Coleman is invested in getting you back out to play, but he initially approaches rotator cuff injuries by attempting to heal them conservatively. After learning about how long you’ve been experiencing pain and discomfort, taking a detailed medical history, and using imaging techniques to gain a better idea of the severity of your rotator cuff injury, Dr. Coleman may recommend:
- Pain medication
- Treatment with ice
- Immobilizing the shoulder by wearing a sling
- A course of physical therapy
- Corticosteroid injections
You can suffer either a partial or full tear (when the tendon completely separates from the bone) of your rotator cuff. The worse your injury is, the more likely it is that a surgical solution will be needed to relieve your pain and restore your mobility.
When surgery is required for rotator cuff tears
Rest assured that Dr. Coleman is well versed in repairing rotator cuff injuries surgically. When he performs a procedure, he typically removes pieces of tendon, bursa, bone spurs, and other loose material. He may also need to shave bone away so your rotator cuff has more room to move.
For rotator cuff tears, Dr. Coleman is able to actually reattach your tendon to the upper area of your humerus.
Whenever possible, Dr. Coleman performs minimally invasive surgery, which involves making just a few very small incisions, rather than a single long one. These types of procedures are associated with faster healing and less pain, bleeding, and scarring.
Another surgical solution Dr. Coleman employs is shoulder arthroscopy, which is a two-part surgery, and also minimally invasive. In the first procedure, Dr. Coleman thoroughly evaluates what’s going on with your shoulder, while the second portion of the surgery is when he actually makes the repair.
The procedure is named for the instrument that Dr. Coleman uses. An arthroscope is a narrow, bendable tube that has a fiberoptic camera on the end of it. The arthroscope enables him to get a good look at your shoulder in order to make an accurate diagnosis and devise a customized treatment plan.
An arthroscopy procedure also allows the doctor to mend any damage to your tendons or muscles and get rid of bone chips.
Another option is shoulder replacement surgery, where Dr. Coleman replaces badly worn bones of your scapula or humerus with man-made metal or plastic ones.
Though shoulder repair surgery and arthroscopy are outpatient procedures, you usually stay in the hospital a couple of days after shoulder replacement. Your aftercare plan depends on which surgery you received to repair your rotator cuff issue.
Whether you’re a baseball player or not, rotator cuff tears and other injuries spell a lower quality of life. We can help. Call the office most convenient to you and book an appointment with Dr. Coleman, or reach out to us through our website.