Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a set of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and maintain the upper arm bone’s head firmly in place within the shoulder’s shallow socket. A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull aching that intensifies at night in the shoulder. Injury to the rotator cuff is prevalent and increases with age. These injuries may occur more frequently in painters and carpenters, whose vocations require them to routinely conduct overhead motions.

Physical therapy activities can increase the flexibility and strength of the shoulder-joint-surrounding muscles. For many individuals with rotator cuff issues, these exercises are sufficient for symptom management. Occasionally, rotator cuff injuries can be caused by a single injury. People in such situations should seek medical advice immediately, as they may require surgery.


Pain linked with a rotator cuff injury may be caused by:

  • Associated with arm weakness
  • Be described as a dull, deep shoulder aching.
  • Disturb sleep
  • Make it difficult to reach behind your back or to comb your hair.

Some injuries to the rotator cuff do not produce pain. Your family doctor can assess shoulder pain that is temporary. Consult your physician immediately if you experience immediate arm weakness following an injury. Additionally, you can visit DoctorOnCall to schedule an appointment with a doctor for a consultation.


The most common cause of rotator cuff injuries is gradual tendon degeneration over time. Tendons can get irritated or damaged by repetitive overhead motions or continuous heavy lifting. In addition to falls and accidents, the rotator cuff can be injured in a single incident.

Risk factors

These factors may increase the likelihood of rotator cuff injury:

  • The likelihood of sustaining a rotator cuff injury rises with age. Most rotator cuff tears occur in individuals older than 60.
  • Family history. There may be a genetic component to rotator cuff injuries, as they seem to be more prevalent in some families.
  • The rotator cuff can be damaged over time by repetitive overhead arm motions, such as in carpentry or house painting.
  • Some types of rotator cuff injuries are more prevalent among athletes who engage in activities such as baseball, tennis, and weightlifting.


During the physical examination, medical professionals will apply pressure to various areas of the afflicted shoulder and move your arm into various postures. In addition, they will assess the strength of your shoulder and arm muscles. Imaging testing may consist of:

  • X-rays. Although a rotator cuff rupture will not be seen on an X-ray, bone spurs and other probable reasons for your symptoms, such as arthritis, will be visible.
  • This form of examination employs sound waves to generate images of your body’s structures, especially soft tissues such as muscles and tendons. It enables a physician to evaluate the shoulder’s structures during movement. It also permits a fast comparison between the damaged and healthy shoulder.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This innovation employs radio waves and a powerful magnet. The acquired pictures depict all shoulder structures in exquisite detail.


Occasionally, a rotator cuff injury can be treated well with rest, ice, and physical therapy. If your damage is severe, surgery may be required.


Physical therapy is often one of the initial therapies recommended. Shoulder flexibility and strength can be restored with the help of exercises tailored to the precise region of your rotator cuff issue. Physical therapy is an essential component of the rehabilitation process following rotator cuff surgery.


Should the shoulder pain interfere with sleep, everyday activities, or physical therapy, a steroid injection into the shoulder joint may be beneficial. Despite the fact that these injections frequently provide immediate comfort, they can also damage the tendon and diminish the success of future shoulder surgery.


There are numerous surgical options for rotator cuff problems, including:

  • Arthroscopic tendon repair. In this surgery, a surgeon reattaches a damaged tendon to the bone using a miniature camera (arthroscopy) and small incisions.
  • Open tendon repair. In certain instances, an open tendon repair may be preferable. In these procedures, the surgeon reattaches the injured tendon to the bone through a wider incision.
  • Tendon transfer. If the ripped tendon is too damaged to reattach to the arm bone, surgeons may opt to utilise a nearby tendon as a substitute.
  • Shoulder replacement. Major rotator cuff tears may necessitate shoulder replacement surgery. A novel operation (reverse shoulder arthroplasty) instals the ball portion of the artificial joint onto the shoulder blade and the socket portion onto the arm bone to increase the stability of the prosthetic joint.