Your rotator cuff is a group of muscles within the upper arm that stabilize your shoulder joint and allow you to move your arms. The rotator cuff enables movements like lifting, pushing, and pulling. When these muscles are torn, this movement is extremely limited, and the joint in your shoulder becomes more susceptible to injury or strain. This is referred to as a rotator cuff tear. They are most common in those who play sports or practice certain repetitive exercises.
Anyone who has sustained a rotator cuff tear understands that it is a painful injury that can severely impact your daily life. Unfortunately, these types of injuries often do not heal on their own. When the rotator cuff is partially or fully torn away from the bone, it will need to be surgically repaired. However, if there is a partial tear, there is another option to potentially avoid surgery, regenerative medicine.
An Overview of the Rotator Cuff
To better understand why a rotator cuff tear is a serious injury, it’s important to know what the rotator cuff is composed of and how it works. Your rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and tendons. This includes the following:
- Infraspinatus: Muscle behind the shoulder joint — allows external arm rotation
- Supraspinatus: Muscle forming the upper border of the rotator cuff — allows forward arm movement
- Subscapularis: Muscle in front of the shoulder — allows inward arm rotation
- Teres Minor: Muscle that allows external rotation
These four muscles work together to allow your arm and shoulder to have a full range of motion. When one is fully or partially torn, your arm will no longer have the same range of motion, and certain movements will result in extreme pain.
While certain muscle injuries can heal on their own with time, rotator cuff injuries are often more complex due to their location and function. There are two primary types of rotator cuff tears: partial and complete.
Also known as an incomplete rotator cuff tear, partial tears happen when the tendon is torn but still attached to some part of the upper arm bone. These could potentially heal on their own, but it is extremely difficult due to the natural movement of your arm.
Regenerative Medicine Options
Regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, is a new alternative option many patients are exploring and finding potential healing from. Mesenchymal stem cells are able to differentiate into many tissues in the body. They can be derived from adipose (fat) tissue, bone marrow aspirate, or umbilical cord tissue (Wharton’s jelly).
These specialized cells have the ability to help the healing process with their repair and regenerative properties for those suffering from a partial tear. They also secrete extracellular vesicles called exosomes. These exosomes help cell-to-cell communication and carry proteins, growth factors, mRNA, and other contributing factors that additionally help the healing cascade.
Those who would like to avoid surgery may want to explore the potential of stem cell therapy to help in their healing process. If those who have a full rotator cuff tear may also explore stem cell therapy as a post-surgical healing option as well.
This post was written by a medical professional at https://www.stemedix.com. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.