The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the humerus (upper arm bone). They help maintain shoulder stability.
Tears to the rotator cuff often occur with a sudden, overhead movement of the arm. Chronic tears and rotator cuff tendinopathy, both caused by years of repetitive overhead arm actions, are more common.
Causes of Rotator Cuff Injuries
Quick, violent movements of the shoulder may lead to a tear in the rotator cuff. The repetition of overhead arm actions is a common cause of rotator cuff tendinopathy.
Symptoms & Diagnosis of Rotator Cuff Injuries
Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include a sudden tearing feeling in your shoulder, limited movement, severe pain and weakness in your shoulder, and an inability to move your arm out to the side. Tendinopathy symptoms are similar but also include a “popping” or “cracking” sensation in your shoulder when you move it. Both conditions may also cause pain when you lie on your shoulder. Doctor will check your range of movement and you may have an X-ray to rule out fractures or bone spurs (malformations of the bone). MRI may be recommended if doctor suspects a tear in the tendon.
Risks & Complications
An untreated rotator cuff injury will become increasingly inflamed and painful, and motion can be reduced, leading to an inability to rotate your shoulder. In the long term, you may develop bone spurs.
Treatment for Rotator Cuff Injuries
If your pain did not subside within 2-3 days, you should see a doctor.
The doctor may prescribe oral analgesic medication and physiotherapy.
If non-surgical treatment fails, the doctor may recommend surgery (keyhole surgery or open, depending on the nature of your injury) to reattach the tendon to the bone.
Rotator Cuff Orthopaedic Specialist
Dr Ambrose Yung, Shoulder Orthopaedic Specialist