Rotator cuff arthropathy can significantly affect day to day activities due to restricted range of motion and pain. Prior to recommending any treatment, Dr. Ong will carefully evaluate your condition and perform all necessary tests.Book Appointment
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons surrounding your shoulder joint, securing the upper arm bone to the shallow socket of the shoulder blade. This provides stability and mobility to your shoulders.
The common symptoms of an RCA include:
A rotator cuff arthropathy (RCA) is a degenerative condition where shoulder arthritis develops on top of an untreated rotator cuff tear. The untreated rotator cuff may tear further, significantly destabilising the shoulder. A torn rotator cuff can arise from an injury or natural weakening due to ageing.
A physical examination is conducted to test your shoulder and arm’s range of motion and detect any pain, swelling or stiffness.
Imaging tools such as x-rays can show signs of arthritis and rotator cuff damage. Abnormal positioning of the joints and bones can also signal a rotator cuff tear. However, your shoulder specialist may further perform ultrasound or MRI scans to have a clearer view of your rotator cuff if the x-ray results are insufficient to determine the cause of RCA.
Similar to other types of shoulder injuries, RCA can be treated via non-surgical and surgical methods.
Non-surgical treatment is used to alleviate pain and increase shoulder mobility.
Common methods include:
Surgical methods are generally recommended when non-surgical remedies are insufficient in reducing pain and improving shoulder mobility.
The surgical removal of inflamed tissues and bone spurs may be performed to reduce pain. However, this may not necessarily improve the mobility and function of the shoulder.
As such, shoulder replacement surgeries are usually done for RCA patients. A traditional shoulder replacement surgery uses a standard shoulder implant for treatment. However, it is only partially effective as the artificial shoulder still requires a properly functioning rotator cuff to work correctly. Hence, the shoulder joints may still be misaligned, resulting in the socket portion of the implant wearing out easily.
Instead, a reverse shoulder replacement surgery is becoming a more popular option as it uses a special type of implant that mimics the function of a rotator cuff by placing a ball within the shoulder socket to form a new socket at the humerus. Hence, a properly functioning rotator cuff is unnecessary for this type of implant and can last longer without loosening.
Senior Consultant, MBBS (Singapore), MMed (Ortho), FRCSEd (Ortho)
Dr. Ong Kee Leong is a fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon. He subspecializes in shoulder and knee, foot and ankle, hand wrist and elbow surgeries, arthroscopic sports surgery, and the management of sports-related injuries.
He has been registered with the Singapore Medical Council as a specialist in Orthopaedic Surgery since 2011.
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