Rotator Cuff Tear Specialist

Joseph B. Wilson, MD

Orthopedic Shoulder Surgeon located in Raleigh, NC & Apex, NC

Rotator cuff tears send about 2 million American adults to the doctor every year. At Shoulder Expert of Raleigh, fellowship-trained orthopedic shoulder specialist Joseph Wilson, MD, provides individualized rotator cuff tear treatment for adolescents and adults throughout Raleigh, Apex, and Durham, North Carolina. If you think you have a rotator cuff tear, call the nearest office, or request an appointment online today.

Rotator Cuff Tear Q&A

What is a rotator cuff tear?

The rotator cuff is a group of tendons that help hold your shoulder in place and allow you to lift and rotate your arm. Tears to one or more rotator cuff tendons weaken your shoulder and turn daily activities like getting dressed and brushing your teeth into painful ordeals.

What causes a rotator cuff tear?

Injury and degeneration are the two primary causes of rotator cuff tears. An acute rotator cuff tear can occur if you fall on an outstretched arm or lift something heavy with a sudden, jerking motion. Acute tears can involve other shoulder injuries, like fractures and dislocations.

Most often, a rotator cuff tear results from wear-and-tear that occurs over time. Increasing age and repetitive motions like rowing, weightlifting, and throwing can contribute to a rotator cuff tear. Many jobs and household chores like painting and construction can also cause a degenerative rotator cuff tear.

How do I know if I have a rotator cuff tear?

Rotator cuff tears that happen suddenly usually cause extreme pain and immediate arm weakness. Degenerative tears also cause shoulder pain and weakness in the arm, but these symptoms start off mild and worsen over time.

If you have symptoms of a rotator cuff tear, call Dr. Wilson for prompt and personalized medical care.

How is a rotator cuff tear diagnosed and treated?

First, Dr. Wilson discusses your symptoms and medical history. He examines your shoulder and may order imaging tests, like an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, to confirm a diagnosis.

Then, Dr. Wilson recommends the best course of treatment for your specific needs. Depending on the location and severity of your tear, treatment may include:

  • Activity modification
  • Physical therapy
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroid injection

About 80% of patients with rotator cuff tears experience pain relief and improved shoulder function with nonsurgical treatment.

When might I need surgery for a rotator cuff tear?

Dr. Wilson may recommend surgery if your symptoms persist despite conservative treatment or if you have an active lifestyle that requires using your arms for work or sports.

In the past, people who had large rotator cuff tears could only benefit from surgery if there was enough healthy tissue surrounding the injury. Dr. Wilson uses modern techniques like superior capsular reconstruction (SCR) to help patients with limited healthy tissue regain function in their shoulder. This approach uses a graft to repair the rotator cuff.

When performing shoulder surgery, Dr. Wilson uses minimally invasive arthroscopy whenever possible.

For excellent care of a rotator cuff tear, call Shoulder Expert of Raleigh, or book an appointment online today.