This past weekend’s boxing match between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao may have been the most-watched pay-per-view event of all time, but all eyes are now focused on Pacquiao’s reported shoulder injury. Battling through the twelve-round fight with Mayweather, Pacquiao suffered further injury to his already ailing shoulder. Reports released this week confirm the athlete will need shoulder surgery to repair a “significant tear” in his rotator cuff.
Emory Sports Medicine’s Dr. Jeff Webb stopped by CNN to shed some light about Pacquiao’s injury, possible treatment options and recovery time:
What is the rotator cuff?
The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and their tendons that wrap around the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder, attaching the upper arm to the shoulder socket. These tendons allow you to move and rotate your arm in wide range of motion. When the rotator cuff tendons are damaged or torn, the shoulder may become unstable and cause pain.
What causes rotator cuff tears?
A tear in the rotator cuff is the most common cause of shoulder pain. Most tears occur as a result of wearing down, or fraying, of the tendons over time. Overuse of the muscles, especially in a person’s dominant arm, increases the risk of tearing. Lack of blood supply and bone spurs due to age are other causes. Shoulder injuries, such as broken collarbone or a dislocated shoulder, can also cause a rotator cuff tear.
What are the symptoms of rotator cuff tear?
- Patients with a rotator cuff tear usually experience a dull ache in their upper arm and shoulder. Other common symptoms include:
- Pain or discomfort when lifting and lowering your arm
- Weakness with rotating your arm
- Pain extending down to the elbow (but usually not further)
- Neck pain on the side of the affected shoulder; Low dull headaches
- With sudden tears, patients may hear a cracking noise and experience intense pain and immediate weakness in the upper arm
How serious is Pacquiao’s injury?
It’s hard to definitely comment without evaluating him in person, but reports of a “significant tear” can mean one of a few types of rotator cuff injuries, including:
- Tendonitis: a condition in which the tendon is inflamed, irritated and/or swollen. Tendonitis is common in athletes and can occur as the result of tendon overuse, injury, or because of age.
- Complete tear: when the tendon splits into two pieces, sometimes separating off from the upper arm bone.
- Partial tear: when there’s damage to the tendon, or tissue, but it is not completely split.
In Manny Pacquiao’s case, the tear is extensive enough that surgery has been recommended. The goal of surgery is to treat his pain and restore the function of shoulder, preventing further damage to those tendons. While some patients can return to regular activities after six months, but in the case of professional athletes, especially boxers, we can expect the recovery time to be around nine to twelve months to allow for ample healing.
About Dr. Jeff Webb
Jeff Webb, MD, sees patients of all ages and abilities with musculoskeletal problems, but specializes in the care of pediatric and adolescent patients. He works hard to get players “back in the game” safely and as quickly as possible. During his training and practice he has provided medical coverage for division I college football and other sports, multiple high schools, ballet, the Rockettes, marathons, international track and field events, and the Special Olympics. He is a team physician for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and serves as the primary care sports medicine and concussion specialist for the team. He is also a consulting physician for several Atlanta area high schools, the Atlanta Dekalb International Olympic Training Center, Emory University, Oglethorpe University, Georgia Perimeter College and many other club sports teams.
He is active in the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics professional societies and has given multiple lectures at national conferences as well as contributed to sports medicine text books.
At Emory Sports Medicine Center, our shoulder experts specialize in advanced shoulder procedures, including Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair, to treat and repair a wide range of shoulder injuries. Click to learn more about torn rotator cuff injury >>