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Rotator Cuff Doctor


Orthopedic Surgeons & Sports Medicine Physicians located in San Francisco, CA

Rotator cuff injuries are common in sports, jobs, and activities that require repeated overhead movement, like tennis, baseball, or painting. Located in the Pacific Heights region of San Francisco, California, IASM offers both conservative and surgical treatment for rotator cuff injuries. Led by board-certified orthopedic surgeons Jeffrey Halbrecht, MD, and Ephraim Dickinson, MD, IASM specializes in arthroscopic surgery and comprehensive sports medicine. To speak with one of our doctors about your rotator cuff injury, call the office or book an appointment online today.

Rotator Cuff Q & A

What is the rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff refers to a group of muscles and tendons that provide strength and stability to your shoulder. It helps keep your shoulder in its socket and allows you to lift and rotate your arm. 

If the rotator cuff comes into contact with surrounding structures like the overlying bone (called the acromion) or a nearby ligament, it can result in irritation and inflammation. Inflammation can weaken the muscles and tendons surrounding your shoulder joint, resulting in a torn rotator cuff. 

Rotator cuff injuries can occur suddenly from a single injury or gradually over time. Rotator cuff injuries are commonly caused by repeated overhead motions and forceful or abrupt arm movements. Spurs (abnormal growths) on the acromion can also rub against and irritate the rotator cuff.

What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury?

Symptoms include:

  • Dull, aching pain
  • Arm weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping on the affected shoulder

The pain from a rotator cuff injury often worsens at night or when attempting overhead movements. If a significant portion of your rotator cuff is torn, you may experience shoulder weakness, limited range of motion, and limited ability to lift objects. 

If left untreated the weakness and loss of motion caused by a rotator cuff injury can become permanent. An untreated rotator cuff injury also causes continued degeneration of your shoulder joint. If you experience symptoms, Dr. Halbrecht can help determine the severity of your injury and the right solution for effective relief. 

How are rotator cuff injuries treated?

Before you begin treatment, one of our doctors need to confirm your diagnosis. Diagnosing your rotator cuff injury begins with a physical exam. The doctor feels for abnormalities throughout your shoulder and tests the strength of the muscles. The doctor might also perform an MRI. His practice offers convenient in-office MRIs using a comfortable open extremity scanner. 

The doctor uses your evaluation to develop your treatment plan. Most rotator cuff injuries can be successfully treated through nonsurgical methods. Nonsurgical treatment includes anti-inflammatory medication, ice, and limited lifting activities. Once the pain begins to subside, physical rehabilitation is used to strengthen the injured rotator cuff. If there is no improvement, cortisone injections may be used to relieve pain and inflammation. 

If your rotator cuff injury doesn’t respond to conservative care, you may require surgical treatment. The goal of rotator cuff surgery is to remove a bone spur from the acromion and/or reattach the tendons to the bones in your arm. 

Dr. Halbrecht invented an effective new device called the Versalok® that reduces rotator cuff repair times and provides a more secure attachment than traditional methods. In severe cases, shoulder replacement is needed to restore the stability of your shoulder joint. 

To speak with Dr. Halbrecht or Dr. Dickinson about your rotator cuff injury, book an appointment by phone or online today.