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Rotator Cuff Injury - Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Published on Nov 12, 2019 and last reviewed on Nov 16, 2019   -  4 min read


Rotator cuff injury is the damage of the tissue around the shoulder joint. This article will explain the types and symptoms of rotator cuff injury along with its causes, risk factors, treatment options, and preventive measures.

Rotator Cuff Injury - Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment


The muscles and tendons that help in the movement of your shoulders are called the rotator cuff. Any injury to this group of muscles can cause a dull ache in the shoulder, which worsens with shoulder movement. This type of injury is commonly seen in athletes and people who repeatedly move their shoulders like painters and carpenters. Most people recover from this injury with the help of physiotherapy.

What Is Rotator Cuff Injury?

The group of muscles and tendons that work together to stabilize the shoulder and allow you to move it is called rotator cuff. The muscles that make the rotator cuff are:

  1. Supraspinatus muscle - It keeps the upper arm stable and helps in lifting the arm.

  2. Infraspinatus muscle - It helps in shoulder rotating action.

  3. Subscapularis muscle - It connects the upper arm to the shoulder blade and helps in rotating the shoulder.

  4. Teres minor muscle - It is the smallest muscle and also helps in rotation.


img source : rosept

These tendons get injured easily as they move in a very tight space. When you move your shoulder properly, these muscles move and help with the movement. But when you stress or strain it beyond its capacity, these muscles rub against the bony process in the shoulder bone (acromion). This results in the muscles getting injured and inflamed.

Types of Rotator Cuff Injuries:

The types of rotator cuff injury are:

What Symptoms Does Rotator Cuff Injury Cause?

Symptoms are not seen with all types of rotator cuff injuries. Repetitive motions can gradually damage the muscles over the years. The common symptoms include:

If these symptoms last for more than a week, or if you lose sensation or function of your arm, consult a doctor immediately.

What Causes Rotator Cuff Injury?

The following are the most common causes of rotator cuff injury:

Risk Factors:

Such injuries are commonly seen in:

How Is Rotator Cuff Injury Diagnosed?

Your doctor will press your shoulders in different areas, and he or she will tell you to perform various shoulder movements. Physical examination also tests for the strength of the rotator cuff muscles. If needed, your doctor might tell you to get the following tests:

How Is Rotator Cuff Injury Treated?

Most types of rotator cuff injuries get better with rest, ice compressions, and physical therapy. Surgery is indicated only in severe cases of rotator cuff tear. The treatment options include:

1) Conservative treatments - Rest the affected shoulder, apply ice, and consult a physiotherapist for physical therapies. Your doctor will prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines.

2) Physical therapy - Exercises specially designed for this type of shoulder injury will help reduce pain and restore flexibility and strength to the shoulder.

3) Injections - If your pain did not get better with physiotherapy, the doctor might recommend getting a steroid injection directly into the shoulder joint. It is indicated for people who have pain that interferes with sleep and other activities. This only gives temporary relief.

4) Surgery - The surgeries done are:

Preventive Measures:

For people at risk, perform shoulder stretches and strengthening exercises. Ask a fitness specialist how to perform these exercises properly.

For more information on rotator cuff injury, consult a physiotherapist online now.

Last reviewed at:
16 Nov 2019  -  4 min read




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