Rotator Cuff Injuries & Treatments in Kirkland, WA

Dr. Clinton is a fellowship- trained board certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and arthroscopy of the shoulder. She takes pride in making sure that her patients understand their treatment options and takes the time to answer any questions. Call (425) 899-4810 to schedule an appointment today!

Shoulder Anatomy

The rotator cuff is made up of four tendons (subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and teres minor) that work to hold the humeral head in the socket so that other larger muscles can move the shoulder. Due to high volume daily use, rotator cuff injuries are very common.

Much of the movement that our arms make is determined by the rotator cuff, which is why injuries to this area can be particularly painful. Even a task as simple as lifting your arm above your head would be impossible with a torn rotator cuff.

Shoulder Anatomy


Rotator Cuff Tear

A torn rotator cuff is a fairly common injury, as well as a painful one. These tears can occur as either a partial, or total tear, which may or may not require surgical treatment depending upon the severity of the individual case. When the rotator cuff is torn, weakness and pain can occur. Over time, especially with a large rotator cuff tear that is not repaired, a certain type of arthritis can occur. The rotator cuff can cause pain without being torn due to tendonitis, bursitis/impingement or calcific tendonitis.

Learn More About Rotator Cuff Tears

Shoulder impingement occurs when bone spurs rub on the rotator cuff. Pain occurs when the arm is in the overhead position. Shoulder impingement may also contribute to the rotator cuff tearing over time.

Many patients with impingement can be treated nonoperatively with activity modification, exercises, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medicines, and/or steroid injections.

If these measures are not successful then patients may be candidates for arthroscopic surgery. During this surgery, through small incisions, a camera is placed and the bone spurs can be shaved down. This is done as an outpatient surgery. Patients usually wear a sling for 2-3 weeks following surgery. They then work with physical therapy on regaining motion and strength.

Learn More About Shoulder Impingement

Calcific tendonitis occurs when calcium deposits are present within the rotator cuff. This can cause severe shoulder pain. This can be treated with cortisone injections and/or breaking up the calcium with a needle. If those treatments don’t work, surgery is an option. Surgery involves arthroscopic removal of the calcium and usually, repair of the area of tendon that the calcium was removed from.

Post-operative rehabilitation and recovery is very similar to that of a rotator cuff repair.

Rotator cuff tendonitis can lead to a rotator cuff tear. As tendonitis becomes a chronic issue, patients can progress into a worsening situation in which the tendons actually begin to break down and eventually tear. Obviously, it is best to avoid this degeneration entirely by seeking care from a medical professional as soon as symptoms begin to appear.

Learn More About Shoulder Tendonitis

Schedule An Appointment

The specific treatment method utilized will largely depend on the type and severity of your individual injury.  It is important to consult with an orthopedic specialist to discuss your treatment options.  As a fellowship-trained board certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Camille Clinton delivers state-of-the-art treatments for rotator cuff injuries. Call (425) 899-4810 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Clinton today!

Request an Appointment