Jonathon Niese, left-handed pitcher for the New York Mets, faces an uncertain recovery timeline after sustaining a partial rotator cuff tear in his throwing arm that has kept him off the field for nearly two weeks. Niese, whose breakout season in 2012 elevated his status to one of the league’s premier pitchers, began to experience pain and swelling in his shoulder earlier this season and was diagnosed with shoulder tendonitis.

After struggling to play through the pain for several weeks, Niese left during the fourth inning of a game in Atlanta when he experienced severe pain and a sudden decrease in his pitch velocity. An MRI scan later confirmed a partial thickness tear of the rotator cuff, the group of muscles and tendons that help to stabilize and rotate the shoulder joint. If the tear does not heal on its own, with the help of rest and a strengthening program, Niese could face a season-ending rotator cuff repair surgery.

The Shoulder Surgery Center of Excellence in Los Angeles offers a team of renowned orthopedic surgeons who specialize in the comprehensive care of shoulder injuries and chronic conditions affecting the shoulder joint. If you think you may be suffering from shoulder tendonitis or a rotator cuff injury, don’t hesitate to call us at (888) 847-0357 to schedule your initial consultation with an experienced orthopedic shoulder surgeon.

The Risk of Playing Through Shoulder Tendonitis

Shoulder tendonitis is a fairly common cause of shoulder pain and stiffness among athletes who frequently use their arm in an overhead position or throwing motion. With repeated overuse of the shoulder joint, tendons between the shoulder blade and upper arm bone can become worn and frayed, leading to chronic inflammation and pain in the shoulder. In most cases, properly treated shoulder tendonitis will resolve on its own. However, without taking the time to rest and engage in physical therapy to strengthen the shoulder, continued stress on the joint substantially increases the risk of tearing the already weakened tendon.

Treatment for a Partial Rotator Cuff Tear

Since being diagnosed with a partial rotator cuff tear, Niese has been taken out of the Mets’ lineup and has undergone a strengthening program to encourage natural healing of the rotator cuff. Now nearing the two week mark since the original injury, Niese is set to undergo a follow-up MRI that will reveal whether or not the tear has begun to heal.

Complete rotator cuff tears, as well as partial tears that do not resolve with conservative therapy, require surgery to resolve pain and restore mobility to the arm and shoulder. Rotator cuff repair surgery is a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure, in which camera-equipped devices are inserted through small incisions in the shoulder to trim bits of damaged tissue and remove loose debris causing joint irritation. Shoulder arthroscopy is a highly effective method of rotator cuff repair that greatly reduces recovery time and decreases the risk of post-operative complications compared with traditional open shoulder surgery.

Following rotator cuff repair surgery, several months of physical therapy may be required to strengthen the shoulder and reduce the risk of re-injury. For professional athletes such as Niese who are returning to a high level of athletic activity, this rehabilitation period is critical to the long-term success of the surgery. Should Niese’s MRI reveal little change or worsening of his partial rotator cuff tear, the Mets are likely to face the remainder of the season without him.

Contact a Beverly Hills Orthopedic Surgeon

The Shoulder Surgery Center of Excellence houses a team of renowned orthopedic surgeons specializing in the comprehensive treatment of shoulder injuries. As leading experts in the use of advanced shoulder arthroscopy, our surgeons are able to resolve a variety of shoulder conditions using minimally invasive techniques.

To learn more about our treatment approach to rotator cuff tears, or to schedule a consultation with a Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon, contact us by calling (888) 847-0357.

Next, read about how shoulder arthroscopy works.