A rotator cuff injury is damage to the muscles around your shoulder. It weakens your shoulder, causes severe shoulder pain and can limit your range of movement.
A rotator cuff injury is also known as:
It's a type of shoulder injury to the rotator cuff; a group of four muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint. They support the shoulder and help it to move. Problems with the rotator cuff are a common cause of shoulder pain.
It can cause a dull ache that's often worse when you try to sleep on the affected side.
Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include:
Sometimes pain in your arm can be a sign of a heart condition or heart attack. If shoulder pain doesn’t get worse when you raise your arm or you feel unwell, you should contact A&E.
Your doctor will discuss how you’re feeling and examine your shoulders for pain and movement.
Your neck will also be checked to make sure your shoulder pain isn't referred pain (pain that's felt in another part of the body than its actual source) from conditions affecting your spine.
Your doctor may also ask you about any recent chest pains to rule out a possible heart condition.
Your doctor may recommend some other tests to rule out a broken bone or another condition:
The causes of a rotator cuff injury include the following:
A rotator cuff tear following an injury
Tears caused by an injury, such as a fall or a dislocated shoulder.
A rotator cuff tear following long-term (chronic) overuse
Repetitive overhead use of your arm at work or sport increases the risk of a rotator cuff injury. For this reason, it often affects painters, carpenters, cricketers and racket players.
Also known as shoulder impingement, tendonitis, bursitis and trapped tendon. This is when the tendons press against the bones in your shoulder. It can be caused by arthritis and bone spurs on the bone at the top of your shoulder (acromion).
This is when calcium builds up in the rotator cuff tendon, increasing pressure in the tendon and causing irritation and pain. It isn’t known what causes it. The calcium can affect how the rotator cuff functions and cause subacromial impingement.
Degenerative wear and tear
Degeneration of the muscles and tendons is known as tendonitis and is more common in women aged 35–50. Bony overgrowths, also associated with ageing, can weaken the tendon and cause tears.
Treatments for rotator cuff injury include:
Steroid injections may help in the case of a chronic (long-term) injury.
In more serious cases, you may require rotator cuff surgery. This could involve: