Cuff augmentation helps heal shoulder pain

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Rotator cuff injuries lead to impaired function of the shoulder. When the injury is severe, doctors need to build up tissue or bone as a sort of anchor for the tendons, known as cuff augmentation.

Randy Owings’ lifeblood is his family and his 32-year career caring for champion horses. He does it all: rides tractors, bales hay, totes feed buckets. While it’s all very physical, it was a friendly pickup lacrosse game that took him down.

“My shoulder went dead. It wasn’t hard, I mean, I hit him and when he rolled, I put my left shoulder into him,” Owings recalled.

Rotator cuff injury

That move triggered pain that ripped through his shoulder.

cuff augmentation

Shoulder specialist at Mercy Medical Center, Gregory Gasbarro, MD, explained, “He tore what’s called the rotator cuff, which are a group of four muscles and tendons around the ball and socket joint of the shoulder. So, they sit on the outside of the ball and they’re really important for not only the motion of the ball and the socket, but also stability and centering the ball and the socket.”

Of the four tendons gripping it, Owings tore three.

“It’s like the sleeve of a shirt, he almost went all the way around the sleeve,” Dr. Gasbarro added.

Limited mobility

Rotator cuff injuries prevent patients from raising their arms overhead.

Dr. Gasbarro opted for cuff augmentation surgery, using Owings’ own bicep in reattaching his tendons with this instrument, which leaves the white part behind like a drywall screw.

rotator cuff

Re-injury can be an issue, so post-surgery, Owings had to rest. Four months of tendon-bone healing made the fix solid enough to withstand forces across the joint so it wouldn’t rip again.

“He’s back to doing maintenance work on the horse farm,” Dr. Gasbarro reassured.

Rotator cuff surgery is very slow to heal, with post-surgical pain lasting up to six months. Patients are advised to be diligent about physical therapy to regain complete use of their arms.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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