What is the Rotator Cuff?
The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder joint. These muscles and tendons help your shoulder move and stay stable. Rotator cuff injuries are common and include tendinitis, bursitis and tears. An injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder which will often worsen with continued use of the arm. Many people with rotator cuff injuries can manage their symptoms and return to activities with exercise that helps to improve strength and flexibility in the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint.
Rotator Cuff Injury Causes
The two main causes for rotator cuff injuries are a major injury to the shoulder or wear and tear of the tendon tissue. In addition, repetitive heavy lifting or movement of the injured area over a period of time may irritate or damage the tendon. Some of the main risk factors that increase your risk of having a rotator cuff injury include age, construction-type occupations, and family history. Rotator cuff problems are most common in people older than 60 and increases if there is family history of shoulder problems. Occupations that involve repetitive arm motions like painting and carpentry can also increase the chances of having rotator cuff injuries.
Rotator Cuff Injury Symptoms
Most people with a rotator cuff injury will have some level of pain in the shoulder area that ranges from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing pain. The pain will typically cause sleep problems because you find it difficult to get comfortable or are woken up from the pain. You may find it difficult to perform certain tasks like combing your hair or reaching behind your back. Some people also have arm weakness in addition to the shoulder pain.