Rotator Cuff Injury Treatment


A rotator cuff injury is an injury to one or more of the four muscles in the shoulder. This shoulder injury may come on suddenly and be associated with a specific injury such as a fall (acute), or it may be something that gets progressively worse over time with activity that aggravates the muscle (chronic).

Occasionally, even a simple act like rolling over in bed can result in a rotator cuff injury.

The type of injury can range from an inflammation of the muscle without any permanent damage, such as tendinitis, to a complete or partial tear of the muscle that might require surgery to fix it.

The shoulder joint connects the upper arm to the upper part of the body. It consists of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone).

Many different ligaments (rubber band-like structures that attach bone to bone) are involved in stabilizing the shoulder joint, particularly in the front. The muscles of the rotator cuff stabilize the back of the shoulder joint. These muscles help to keep the head of the humerus in place against the shoulder blade. The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis).

Chronic Tear

  • Occurs more often in a person’s dominant arm.
  • More commonly found among men older than 40 years.
  • Pain usually worse at night and interferes with sleep.
  • Worsening pain followed by gradual weakness.
  • Decrease in ability to move the arm, especially out to the side.

Able to use arm for most activities but unable to use the injured arm for activities that entail lifting the arm as high as or higher than the shoulder to the front or side.

Acute Tear

  • Sudden tearing sensation followed by severe pain shooting through the arm.
  • Motion limited by pain and muscle spasm.
  • Acute pain from bleeding and muscle spasm (often goes away in a few days).
  • Point tenderness over the site of rupture.

With large tears, inability to raise the arm out to the side, although this can
be done with help.

More common in women 35-50 years of age.

Deep ache in the shoulder also felt on the outside upper arm.

Point Tenderness
Pain comes on gradually and becomes worse with lifting the arm to the side
or turning it inward.

May lead to a chronic tear.

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