Rotator Cuff Injury
Rotator Cuff Injury

What is a rotator cuff injury?

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that creates stability and mobility of the shoulder. It consists of 4 muscles, the Infraspinatus, Supraspinatus (most commonly torn), Teres minor and Subscapularis. A rotator cuff injury is a strain or tear in this group of muscles. These tendons can become impinged upon and inflamed which also creates pain.

How does it occur?

A rotator cuff problem can result from:

Poor posture

Muscle imbalance

Overuse such as repetitive overhead movement in sports or work

Lifting a heavy object

Falling onto the arm


Certain anatomic variations in the shoulder may predispose a person to a rotator cuff injury

What are the symptoms?

Arm and shoulder pain

Shoulder weakness

Shoulder tenderness

Loss of shoulder movement, especially overhead

How is it diagnosed?

Rotator cuff injuries may initially be diagnosed through physical examination checking for pain, tenderness, and loss of motion.

An X-ray, MRI or arthrogram may be done.

What is the treatment?

Treatment depends on the degree of injury.

For impingement, tendonitis, strains or tears, physical therapy is often done.

In therapy treatment will focus on decreasing inflammation, restoring normal joint mobility, improving ROM and improving muscle balance surrounding the shoulder.

Your therapist may emphasize proper posture, rest and appropriate exercise and icing.

If a tear is partial or full thickness, surgical repair may be performed.

Learn about your problem

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