Rotator Cuff Disease
Rotator cuff disease is a fairly general description covering any condition affecting the rotator cuff. In my view it is a lazy, catch all diagnosis in which I would have no confidence.
It may be acceptable for a doctor to use this for a short time whilst a more specific diagnosis is researched. To dismiss any complaint long term as rotator cuff disease is absolutely unacceptable.
I would argue that disease of the rotator cuff falls into the same category as diagnoses such as rotator cuff syndrome and rotator cuff tendinopathy. In all such cases they are an initial diagnosis that should be always followed by a comment such as “we must do some tests”.
I do not wish to be at all critical. It is very difficult for any family doctor to accurately diagnose any specific problem affecting the rotator cuff. As I have discussed in detail elsewhere on this site the use of mri, ultrasound and arthroscopy are almost always required to make an accurate diagnosis.
It is for this reason that terms such as rotator cuff disease are still regularly used. There is nothing wrong with their use. It is only if it becomes a final diagnosis that it becomes a real cause for concern. If your doctor has made a final diagnosis of rotator cuff disease then my advice is quite simple - get another doctor.
A definition of rotator cuff disease
This is where I have to qualify most of what I said above. Let’s look at a couple of definitions of the term disease
As you can see the above definitions are all remarkably loose.
They can be legitimately used to cover almost any set of medical circumstances.
It is therefore hard to argue against the use of the word disease.
But that is exactly why it is not acceptable to diagnose any problem affecting the rotator cuff purely as disease.
It is too simple, too general and you the patient are being fobbed off and sold short.
If this has happened to you, you must go back to the doctor.
You should demand a professional diagnosis backed up by a thorough examination and subsequent tests.
The rotator cuff is pretty complex and it is tough.
The majority of us will have shoulder problems at some time during our lives especially as we get older.
Not surprising really when you think of what we use the rotator cuff for.
That is why it is so important for such conditions to be taken seriously and diagnosed and treated professionally.
I am often asked just how fragile are rotator cuff muscles and tendons. The simple answer is that in the majority of us they are not. They are tough, durable and dependable. It is only when something does goes wrong that we ever really consider them. That is when we need our doctors to react accordingly.
Range of rotator cuff disease
There are so many different conditions that affect the rotator cuff. Because there is this range of conditions it vital to obtain an accurate diagnosis. If the diagnosis is not accurate, then how can any doctor’s recommendation for treatment be accurate?
Let’s have a look at some of the common conditions affecting the rotator cuff
Let’s have a look at some of the more common treatment options
You can see from the relatively short lists above that a diagnosis of rotator cuff disease is not enough. It can be a starting off point. It can never be a satisfactory final diagnosis. The rotator cuff is just too complex.
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