March 2, 2018

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and allow proper movement of the arm and shoulder. Injuries to the rotator cuff are common in athletes and other people who frequently perform overhead motions with their arms, such as painters and carpenters.

Rotator cuff injuries typically cause aches and pain in the shoulder area, especially during overhead movement, cause night pain, and can limit range of motion. These injuries range in severity, and in some instances, the rotator cuff can be damaged beyond repair.

When irreparable rotator cuff damage occurs in younger patients not eligible for replacement, treatment options have been limited, according to Dr. Trevor Gaskill of the Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center. Typically, in patients with irreparable rotator cuff damage, doctors will attempt to manage symptoms with physical therapy or injections, or will recommend a reverse shoulder replacement. Neither of these options is optimal for younger or more active patients due to durability concerns. Fortunately, a new procedure called Superior Capsular Reconstruction can be an alternative option that reduces pain and improves function.

“This procedure was specifically designed for younger people with irreparable rotator cuff damage,” Dr. Gaskill said. “Essentially, what it does is it substitutes for the rotator cuff mechanically. It provides a buffer so your bones don’t pinch and allows the larger muscles of your shoulder to function in a more normal fashion.”

According to Dr. Gaskill, the ideal age for a reverse shoulder replacement is above the age of 65.  For people much younger than that, who have had multiple attempts to repair the rotator cuff fail, or who are experiencing significant pain and loss of movement, the Superior Capsular Reconstruction can delay or even eliminate the need for a shoulder replacement.

“The procedure is really only offered in a handful of places right now and we are very proud to offer SCR at OSMC”, Dr. Gaskill said. “In a younger or more active person, who hasn’t had enough wear on their shoulder to create arthritis, it’s a good alternative to consider in an effort to substitute for the rotator cuff and restore some degree of shoulder function.”

If you experience pain or lack of mobility in your shoulders, or any other discomfort or pain in your joints, OSMC can help. Click here to schedule a consultation.