Austin Ortho + Biologics
Kelly Cunningham, MD
Regenerative Medicine Specialist & Sports Medicine Specialist located in Austin, TX
Whether you’re involved in a sport you play regularly or working hard at your job, your shoulders can take a beating that may lead to problems with your rotator cuff. Dr. Kelly Cunningham is a board-certified orthopedist in Austin, Texas, who leads the team at Austin Ortho + Biologics. He’s a well-known shoulder and regenerative medicine specialist who prefers conservative treatment over surgery whenever possible. For a technologically advanced approach to your rotator cuff or labrum injury, call today to make an appointment or book your visit online.
Shoulder Injuries Q & A
What is the rotator cuff or labrum?
Formed by a group of muscles and tendons that surround your shoulder, the rotator cuff keeps your joint intact by preventing the head of your upper arm bone from falling out of the shallow socket of your shoulder. It’s essential for movement of your shoulder joint and makes it possible to raise, lower, and rotate your arm.
The labrum is the cartilage lining of the shoulder joint that also provides stability.
What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff or labrum injury?
Most rotator cuff and labrum injuries develop over time and often cause:
- A dull, aching pain in the affected shoulder that occurs even at rest and may worsen with lying on the shoulder as you sleep
- Pain when you lift or lower your arm, which can occur even with simple activities, such as combing your hair or getting dressed
- Sensation of weakness when you try to lift or rotate your arm
- Pain or catching when you lift or lower your arm, which can occur even with simple activities, such as combing your hair or getting dressed.
Your rotator cuff or labrum can also be damaged or abruptly torn during a fall or other trauma. This type of injury usually causes immediate and intense pain that’s often accompanied by weakness in the arm.
What causes rotator cuff and labrum injuries?
Acute, sudden injuries occur when tendons in your rotator cuff or labrum are stressed beyond their limit. This causes the tissue to tear. The tear may be partial, which damages but does not completely sever the tendon. A complete or full-thickness tear detaches the tendon from bone.
Damage can also occur as part of a wear-and-tear type of degeneration over time that causes the tissues of your rotator cuff or labrum to fray and weaken as you age. This may eventually lead to a partial or full-thickness tear in a tendon. It’s often related to activities that require repetitive shoulder motions, such as:
- Baseball, tennis, weightlifting, and other sports activities that engage your shoulder joints
- Work responsibilities that require repeated use of your shoulders, such as painting or carpentry
What is the treatment for rotator cuff and labrum injuries?
Treatment depends on the nature and scope of your shoulder injury, rotator cuff or labrum. You can trust Dr. Cunningham to design a treatment plan based on your individual needs, which may include:
- Guided physical therapy exercise to improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles surrounding your shoulder joints
- Regenerative therapy with injections that may include your own Cell-Based (formerly "Stem Cell") therapy , platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and other natural substances that promote and enhance healing of damaged tissue
- Minimally invasive surgery (arthroscopy), along with regenerative sports medicine techniques designed to repair tendon damage and restore mobility