What is a Rotator Cuff Injury?
The shoulder and arm joint require strength, flexibility, and stability. This involves a group of tendons and muscles that combine to form the rotator cuff. Every movement that is made with the arm and shoulder involves the rotator cuff.
Unfortunately, the rotator cuff is also one of the most commonly injured group of muscles and tendons in the body. Rotator cuff tears or injuries are often in the form of strains, bursitis, and tendinitis.
Rotator Cuff Injury Symptoms
Rotator cuff injuries are not always painful, meaning it isn’t always obvious when one is experiencing a rotator cuff tear. In some cases, rotator cuff tears are caused by degenerative conditions, and a person can live with it for years before truly noticing any symptoms.
These symptoms can include:
– Limited range of motion when reaching back
– Gradual weakness of the upper arm and shoulder
– Dull shoulder pain at night
– Inability to fully roll and rotate shoulder
– Pain when lifting arm overhead
Experiencing these symptoms for a week or longer could mean that an individual has a rotator cuff injury.
Rotator Cuff Injury Causes
Rotator cuff injuries can generally be categorized into one of three types of injuries, from mild to severe:
– Tendinitis: Tendinitis is common amongst those who repeatedly swing their arms over their heads, such as tennis players and carpenters. By overusing the rotator cuff in an upward motion, this can lead to inflammation, causing painful rubbing in the joint.
– Bursitis: Bursitis occurs when the bursa – sacs that cushion the spaces between the shoulder bone and the rotator cuff tendons – becomes inflamed. This can be due to overuse, but it also occurs alongside other injuries.
– Tears and Strains: Either from gradual tearing through repeated overuse or from a single traumatic blow, the tendons in the rotator cuff can become overstretched and torn. Common causes of this are sudden injuries, car accidents, or heavy falls.
How is a Rotator Cuff Injury treated?
Treatments for rotator cuff injuries can be simple home remedies or surgical intervention, depending on the severity of the injury. It is important to treat any rotator cuff injury as quickly as possible, as they can sometimes worsen over time.
Physical therapy can help most cases of rotator cuff injury, with strength training exercises to help rebuild and strengthen the damaged area.