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According to Coordinated Health Orthopedic Surgeon Nicholas Slenker, M.D. rotator cuff tendon disease and tearing are the number one cause of shoulder disability. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles to tendons that surround the top part of the shoulder, which allows the shoulder to elevate.
Types of Rotator Cuff Tears
There are two types of tears, acute and degenerative.
Acute tears are generally the result of a traumatic, sudden injury. With acute rotator cuff tears you may experience immediate pain, a snapping sensation and weakness in the affected arm.
Degenerative tears are the result of the tendons wearing down over time, which occurs naturally as we age. Symptoms of degenerative tears include increasing, chronic pain that becomes more noticeable with rest.
Rotator Cuff Tear Minimally Invasive Surgery
Dr. Slenker says a lot of what he does to repair rotator cuff tears involves minimally invasive surgery. “I’m able to affect a really significant, strong repair using arthroscopic techniques.”
Arthroscopic surgery is done as an outpatient procedure, which means there is no overnight hospital stay required. During the surgery, small cameras are inserted into your shoulder joint that displays pictures on a television screen. Your surgeon uses these images to guide the surgical instruments. Because the cameras and medical instruments are so small only a small incision is necessary. Arthroscopic surgery is the least invasive form of surgery.
The new frontier of shoulder rotator cuff repair according to Dr. Slenker has to do with maximizing healing and the biology of rotator cuff repairs and he incorporates that in with his surgical techniques. In particular he says he uses injections that can help out after a repair, specifically platelet rich plasma injections. Platelets contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors, which are very important in the healing of injuries. Increased concentration of PRP has been shown to speed up the healing process.
Patient Care at Coordinated Health
Dr. Slenker says that Coordinated Health offers patient some key advantages when it comes to recovering from a rotator cuff repair. “At Coordinated Health we’ve developed an advanced program that looks at multi-modal pain control to really allow the patient to go through the surgery with minimal pain and that allows them to start working with their therapist much earlier, which can be very helpful as far as their recovery,” says Dr. Slenker.