Rotator Cuff Injury
What is a rotator cuff injury?
Your rotator cuff consists of muscles and tendons that hold your shoulder in place. It is one of the most important parts of your shoulder.
Your rotator cuff allows you to lift your arms and reach upward. Each year, millions of people in the United States go to their healthcare providers because of a rotator cuff problem. A rotator cuff tear is a common cause of pain and disability among adults.
What are the symptoms of rotator cuff tear?
The following are the most common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear. However, you may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Recurrent pain, especially with certain activities
- Pain that prevents you from sleeping on your injured side
- Grating or cracking sounds when moving your arm
- Limited ability to move your arm
- Muscle weakness
The symptoms of a rotator cuff tear may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How is a rotator cuff injury diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for a rotator cuff injury may include the following:
- X-ray. A diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
A rotator cuff may tear partially or fully. Partial-thickness tears do not completely sever the tendon from the shoulder.
How is a rotator cuff injury treated?
Your healthcare provider will determine the specific treatment for a rotator cuff injury, based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the condition
- Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or preference
Treatment may include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
- Strengthening and stretching exercises
- Ultrasound therapy
- Corticosteroid injection
- Surgery (for severe injuries)