Skip to main content

Rotator Cuff Tear Specialist

Michael P. Leathers, MD -  - Orthopedic Surgeon

Michael P. Leathers, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon located in Midtown, Sacramento, CA

Nearly 2 million Americans have rotator cuff problems that affect their daily activities. Michael P. Leathers, MD, is an experienced orthopedic surgeon offering treatment solutions for rotator cuff tears and other shoulder problems in Midtown Sacramento, California. If you have pain in your shoulder that’s making it difficult to function, call Michael P. Leathers, MD, or schedule an appointment online today.

Rotator Cuff Tear Q & A

What is a rotator cuff?

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint consisting of three bones: the upper arm bone, shoulder blade, and collarbone. Your rotator cuff holds your arm in your shoulder socket.

Four muscles converge, as tendons over the top of your arm bone form your rotator cuff. It helps your arm lift and allows for full rotation. A lubricating sac called bursa keeps your rotator cuff tendons lubricated so they can move freely.

What is a rotator cuff tear?

If you have a torn rotator cuff, at least one of your rotator cuff tendons is no longer attached to the top of your arm bone.

There are different types of rotator cuff tears: partial tears and full-thickness tears. A partial or incomplete tear damages the tendon, but it’s still partially attached to the upper arm bone. Full-thickness tears indicate the tendon has completely separated from the bone.

Torn rotator cuffs can cause pain or weakness in your arm while lifting, lowering, or rotating your arm. You might also experience a crackling sensation when moving your shoulder.

What causes a rotator cuff tear?

Injury or degeneration of the rotator cuff tendons causes tears. Acute tears due to injury happen when you lift a heavy object with a jerking motion or fall and catch yourself on an outstretched arm.

Rotator cuff tears that are due to degeneration occur more slowly as the tendon wears away. This type of injury is more common as you grow older and typically affects your dominant arm.

Men and women over age 40 are at a higher risk of rotator cuff tears.

How is a rotator cuff tear treated?

Dr. Leathers offers several treatments for rotator cuff tears, depending on your symptoms and the extent of your injury.

Nonsurgical treatments such as reducing activity, strengthening the muscles through physical therapy, and reducing pain and inflammation with steroid injections or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs typically relieve symptoms in 80% of patients.

If your symptoms have lasted longer than six months, Dr. Leathers might suggest surgery. Other rotator cuff damage that might require surgery includes:

  • Large tears surrounded by healthy tissue
  • Significant weakness and reduced shoulder function
  • An acute rupture caused by a recent injury

During your rotator cuff surgery, Dr. Leathers reattaches your severed tendon to your upper arm bone.

Call Michael P. Leathers, MD, or schedule an appointment online today.