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What is a Rotator Cuff?

Published on November 30, 2018

A rotator cuff is made up of a group of muscles and tendons that help move and stabilize the shoulder joint, by keeping the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the socket of the shoulder.

Any sort of damage to any of the four muscles, or the ligaments that are attached to these muscles can cause a dull ache and significant pain that further results in a decreased range of motion. The rotator cuff stabilizes the shoulder joint, however, it is a relatively weak spot.

Causes of Rotator Cuff Injury

1. Physical and Strenuous Use of your Rotator Cuff

Rotator cuff injuries mostly occur in those who repeatedly put stress on their shoulder at their jobs or in a sport. Examples of such cases include painters, carpenters, and people who play baseball and tennis, and people who swim often.

2. Age

An increase in age leads to an increase in the risk of a rotator cuff injury. There is a reduced blood supply to the tendons in the rotator cuff as we grow older. Any damage done cannot repair themselves and it leads to tendon tears.

3. Falling or Lifting

Accidents that involve falling and using your arm to break the fall can severely injure the rotator cuff. Lifting heavy items without proper form and in a in a jerky motion can also lead to these types of injuries.

Types of Rotator Cuff Injuries

1. Acute Rotator Cuff Tear

It happens when there is a lot of force that is exerted on the tendon of the rotator cuff. The severity of the tear depends on the force that was exerted by the person. The degeneration of a tendon can cause the tearing. A person with a healthy tendon is also at risk of tearing it if he/she exerts a certain amount of force.

2. Chronic Tear

It is common for swimmers, baseball players, and tennis players, who reach their arms upwards, overhead to suffer from chronic tears. Repetitive trauma is caused to the cuff with motions like these.

3. Tendinitis

As we age, and the tendons degenerate, it takes much longer to heal when there is an impact. A tendon inflammation can occur, increasing the risk of tearing the rotator cuff.

Symptoms to Look Out For

If you are aware of the common symptoms associated with a torn rotator cuff, you can take early steps to remedy the problem. The symptoms to look out for are:

– A dull ache deep in the shoulder
– Intense pain while sleeping and lying on one of your shoulders.
– Sudden intense and immediate pain when doing certain activities.
– Loss of sensation or weakness in the arm.
– You hear a cracking sound every time you rotate your shoulders or move it around.

Recovery from Rotator Cuff Injuries

Applying ice and resting are among the common ways to treat a mild rotator cuff injury, along with anti-inflammatory medications. A lot of people also recover from rotator cuff injuries through physical therapy exercises that improve flexibility and strengthens the muscles that surround the shoulder joint.

Rotator cuff tears may be a result of a single injury. Medical care should be provided immediately, in this case. Rotator cuff tears that are quite extensive may need surgical repair, joint replacement, or a transfer of alternative tendons.

After surgery, further physical therapy is required to heal the treated area.

Contact Our Office

Having an injured rotator cuff can adversely affect many of the day to day activities you take part in. If you feel like there’s an issue that needs to be fixed, you should seek help as soon as possible before it becomes more severe. Contact Advanced Spine & Orthopedics to schedule your consultation today.