The rotator cuff is the sleeve of muscle and tendons that connect the upper part of your femur to your shoulder socket. Often, when patients develop ongoing, chronic shoulder pain, either is the result of an acute injury or ongoing wear and tear; it is because of damage to the rotator cuff. In some cases, the rotator cuff can even be torn. However, if you are diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff, it is a good idea to seek a second opinion before going through with surgery to repair the tear. Here's why and how.
Why is a second opinion so important?
The rotator cuff is not a single ligament or tendon. It's a complex network of tissues that interact with one another in order to allow you to move your shoulder. Because of this, it is hard to see these various structures clearly in x-rays. One doctor might see what they perceive to be a tear, but if a different doctor looks at the tissue from another angle, they may realize the tear is just minor scar tissue or that it does not exist at all. The injury may, in fact, be able to be healed without surgery, but the first doctor would not have found that out until they opened up your shoulder for the procedure.
Another reason to get a second opinion is that every person heals differently. One doctor may question whether your body will be able to heal a tear, but another doctor may be familiar with a certain therapy or procedure that they feel might help you heal based on your age and overall health.
How do you get a second opinion?
For a second opinion, look for a doctor who specializes in orthopedic injuries. There are many doctors who will do second opinion consultations online or remotely as long as you're able to provide them with your MRI results and any other images. They'll review the test results you send prior to your appointment. Then, during your remote appointment, they'll ask you a few questions and give you their opinion as to how badly your shoulder is injured and what the best way to handle it is.
The second doctor may agree with the other doctor, which suggests you should follow this advice with confidence. They may also disagree, in which case you may want to get a third opinion or simply go with the recommendation that seems most approachable.
If you are diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear, always get a second opinion before getting surgery. With online appointments, doing so is pretty easy. Contact a medical professional who offers online second opinions for treating joint pain to make an appointment.