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.


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Your rotator cuff allows you to
lift your arms and reach up Each year, millions of people in the U.S. 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 causes a rotator cuff injury?

There are 2 main causes of rotator cuff tears: injury and degeneration. An injury to the rotator cuff, such as a tear, may happen suddenly when falling on an outstretched hand. It may also develop over time due to repetitive activities. Rotator cuff tears may also happen due to aging, with degeneration of the tissues.


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What are the symptoms of rotator cuff tear?

Symptoms may be a bit different for
each person. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain that keeps coming back,
    especially when doing certain things such as lifting over your head
  • 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 seem like other conditions or health problems. Always talk with your healthcare
provider for a diagnosis.

How is a rotator cuff injury diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will take
a complete health history and do a physical exam. You may also have diagnostic tests
such as:

  • X-ray. This test uses invisible
    electromagnetic energy beams to make images of internal tissues, bones, and organs
    onto film.
  • MRI. This test uses a combination of
    large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and
    structures within the body.


MRI Scan

A rotator cuff may tear partly or
fully. Partial-thickness tears do not completely remove the tendon from the
shoulder.