Are you experiencing shoulder pain? It could be your rotator cuff, and you’re not alone in your suffering. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, almost 2 million people per year visit their doctors due to a rotator cuff problem in the U.S. alone.
Dr. Omar Perez, a board- certified orthopedic surgeon at North Point Orthopaedics in Munster, diagnoses rotator cuff issues most often in patients in their 50s and 60s, with a small percentage of younger people experiencing pain. In addition, he performs three to four arthroscopic rotator cuff surgeries per week in his practice.
“Rotator cuff pain is usually caused by overuse of the shoulder joint, which, along with the tendons, begins to degenerate,” he says. “Patients can have an asymptomatic tear, which then progresses and becomes painful. That’s when they seek medical attention.”
According to the Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.org), “the rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder. A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder, which often worsens with use of the arm away from the body.”
Harvard Health Publishing at Harvard Medical School (health. harvard.edu) defines the type discomfort caused by rotator cuff injuries as “pain in your shoulder and upper arm. The pain may be most noticeable when you reach up or out. n you turn your arm as you l
it, the tendons are more l to rub against surrounding structures. For this reason your shoulder symptoms may be worst when you try to comb your hair or slip your arm into a sleeve. You also may have dull, aching shoulder pain at night.”
Dr. Perez explains that there are two types of rotator cuff tears: Chronic and traumatic. A chronic tear is common among manual laborers, such as painters and carpenters, who do a lot of heavy lifting and make repetitive, overhead motions.
This is also referred to as a “working tear.” Chronic tears, he said, may be managed without surgery by utilizing physical therapy to improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint.
“The first line of treatment in chronic rotator cuff tears is physical therapy to strengthen the muscles of the rotator cuff, and medications and steroid injections may be added to control the pain,” Dr. Perez notes. “Patients receive non- operative treatment for three months and two out of three of them improve with physical therapy. However, if physical therapy fails to relieve pain after that period of time, the patient becomes a surgical candidate.”
The traumatic rotator cuff tear is common in patients who fall frequently. “Those who develop traumatic dysfunction of the rotator cuff may not be able to lift their arms at all,” says Dr. Perez. He added that traumatic tears require surgery, which is typically arthroscopic, done by making a few small incisions around the shoulder joint. A small camera – or scope – is inserted so the surgeon can see inside the shoulder joint. Then he or she repairs the tear by reattaching the tendon to the bone with series of implants and sutures.
Dr. Perez said the rotator cuff surgery’s success rate is around 80%, measured by the patient’s lack of pain and ability to perform we either do revision surgery or reconstruction of the rotator cuff tendons with a biologic implant or patch. If the patient is older than 70 years of age and has arthritis, we perform a reverse total shoulder replacement or joint replacement surgery.”
Joint replacement surgery entails removing the damaged parts of the shoulder and replacing them with artificial components, called a prosthesis. Either just the head of the humerus bone (ball) is replaced or the ball and socket (glenoid) are replaced.
Dr. Perez specializes in arthroscopic surgery, open surgical techniques to treat sports-related injuries and joint replacement,
with a special focus on complex shoulder procedures and regenerative medicine.
Dr. Perez has served the Northwest Indiana community since 2016, providing high quality patient care and excellent surgical outcomes.
His passion is preserving and restoring motion because, he says, “movement is often the best medicine for creating positive change in a person’s physical and emotional state.” In addition to his work with the North Point Orthopaedics practice, Dr. Perez is affiliated with Community Hospital in Munster and Methodist Hospital in Merrillville. North Point Orthopaedics is at 801 MacArthur Blvd., in Munster.
For more information about the practice and Dr. Perez, call 219-836-1060 or visit nportho.net.