Rotator Cuff Injury

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What is a rotator cuff injury?

A rotator cuff injury is a strain or tear in the group of tendons and muscles that hold your shoulder joint together and help move your shoulder.

How does a rotator cuff injury occur?

A rotator cuff injury may result from many different reasons, including:

  • Using your arm to break a fall
  • Falling onto your arm
  • Lifting a heavy object
  • Sports injury involving repetitive overhead movement
  • Manual labor using the arms
What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury?

Symptoms of a torn rotator cuff include arm and shoulder pain and tenderness to touch. You may experience shoulder weakness. Another symptom of a torn rotator cuff is loss of shoulder movement, especially overhead movement.

How is a rotator cuff injury diagnosed?

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and an x-ray will be done to evaluate the bones of your shoulder. Based on these results, your doctor may order an MRI to further evaluate the rotator cuff.

How is a rotator cuff injury treated?

A tendon or muscle in your shoulder can be inflamed, partially torn, or completely torn. Treatment depends on the severity of the tear and your symptoms. A minor tear may be left to heal by itself. Your treatment plan would include avoiding strenuous activity of the shoulder, ice therapy, performing home exercises, NSAID medications, and Physical Therapy.  A large or complete tear may need to be repaired by arthroscopic surgery. Rough edges of a torn tendon can be trimmed and left to heal. Larger complete tears can be stitched back together. Physical therapy will be needed to strengthen you shoulder as it heals and to maintain your range of motion.

Information obtained from The Sports Medicine Patient Advisor by Pierre Rouzier, MD