Understanding Rotator Cuff Injuries And Treatments

December 20th, 2019 Becki Andrus

Every day you make an endless number of movements that are dependent upon your shoulder. These can include simple actions such as reaching out to grab an item from a desk or a table. You also rely on shoulder movement when rotating to throw a football or baseball, to proceed with an overhead motion as you swim, or for other movements that are necessary in other sports or recreational activities.

The importance of being able to depend on the mobility of your shoulder during a large assortment movements is unquestioned. This critical joint contains three different bones. One of these bones is located in the upper arm, and is also referred to as your humerus. You also have your shoulder blade, which is called the scapula. The third bone is your collarbone which is referred to as your clavicle.

Your shoulder also contains a group of muscles and tendons that keep your arm bone (humerus) properly connected within the socket of your shoulder. These tissues that have the responsibility of attaching your upper arm bone to the shoulder blade are also referred to as your rotator cuff.

Since your rotator cuff performs an important function virtually around the clock this also means causes the muscles and tendons that make up your rotator cuff are subjected to continual all wear and tear. This results from frequent movement, and it can lead to injuries in your rotator cuff.

Causes Of Rotator Cuff Injuries

The majority of issues can develop because the same type of overhead motion is made frequently over a period of time. In many cases, this involves athletes or participants in recreational activities such as the examples that were mentioned earlier. However, wear-and-tear can also develop from repeated motion that is necessary for many different types of jobs.

In addition to the drawbacks of repeated motion, rotator cuff issues can also occur due to a specific event such as a fall, or an attempt to lift a heavy or cumbersome item.

Symptoms Of Rotator Cuff Injuries

If you or someone in your family is contending with a dull ache that projects from the deeper regions of the shoulder, this is often a symptom of a rotator cuff injury. if you encounter difficulty in your attempts to make simple movements since such as reaching behind your back, or rotating your arm to pick up an item, this is often an indication of a rotator cuff issue. Arm weakness is also a symptom of rotator cuff injuries, which is also the case if you are unable to sleep when attempting to lay on your shoulder.

Types Of Rotator Cuff Injuries

There are multiple forms of injuries to the rotator cuff, although most are less severe than a rotator cuff tear. These conditions include tendonitis, which is an inflammation of the tendons that are located in your rotator cuff. This is a common condition due to repetitive use. In other cases, bursitis can develop. This is another form of inflammation that involves the bursae, which are the thin cushions between your bone and tissue

Some patients contend with a tendon strain, which is a stretch in your tendon. Other patients might deal with a shoulder impingement. This condition takes place if the tissue is making contact with the top portion of the shoulder blade. If this issue is not treated by a physician, then it can eventually result in a rotator cuff tear.

There are also several types of rotator cuff tears. In some cases, a patient might encounter a partial tear which is sometimes referred to as an incomplete tear. This involves damage to the tendon, although the tendon will not be completely severed. In other cases, a complete tear can emerge.  This involves the tendon becoming separated from the bone.

Factors That Increase Risk Of Injury 

Your risk of encountering an issue with your rotator cuff will rise as you undergo the aging process. Involvement in contact spots will also increase your chances of experiencing an injury. This is also the case for anyone who works at a job that involves repeating the same arm motion on a daily basis. Any family history of rotator cuff injuries will also increase the likelihood that you might contend with an issue of your own.

What A Doctor Will Do

When you visit a physician, he or she will ask you a series of questions toward determining their diagnosis. This will include your medical history and the symptoms that you are experiencing. Your physician could also examine your arm strength. Imaging tests such as x-rays, an MRI or ultrasound might also be used to determine a diagnosis.


The majority of treatment for rotator cuff injuries will be non-surgical. The goal of these treatments will be pain relief, along with increasing the range of motion in your shoulder. Non-surgical methods of treatment include rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy. If these forms of treatment have not completely eliminated your pain, it is possible that your doctor will recommend a cortisone steroid injection.

If your discomfort lingers for a long period of time (6 to 12 months), then it is possible that your physician will recommend surgery. The specifics of your medical history and your situation will determine whether surgery is discussed.

At Orthopedic Associates We Are Here To Help 

It is clear that having your shoulder functioning properly is of vital importance. Fortunately, the professionals at Orthopedic Associates are ready to provide you with their expertise whenever you or someone in your family is contending with a rotator cuff issue, or from any type of shoulder pain. Our collection of board-certified doctors supply the vast knowledge that can only result from a combined total of 183 years of experience. This is beneficial in their ability to design effective treatment plans that will guide you back to a pain-free existence.

The specialists at Orthopedic Associates are also dedicated to helping you with a large range of shoulder conditions, including any injuries to the rotator cuff:

  • Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Arthritis
  • Anatomy of the Shoulder
  • Biceps Tendinitis
  • Biceps Tendon Rupture
  • Burners and Stingers
  • Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder (Degenerative Calcification)
  • Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder (Reactive Calcification)
  • Fracture of the Collarbone (Clavicle)
  • Fracture of the Shoulder Socket (Glenoid Fracture)
  • Fractures of the Greater Tuberosity
  • Fractures of the Shoulder Blade (Scapula)
  • Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
  • Glenoid Labrum Tears
  • Hill-Sachs Lesion
  • Loose Shoulder (Multidirectional Instability)
  • Muscle Imbalance in the Shoulder
  • Muscle Strain of the Upper Back (Trapezius Strain)
  • Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Proximal Humerus Fracture (Broken Shoulder)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) of the Shoulder
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries/Tears
  • Shoulder Dislocations
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
  • Shoulder Separation
  • SLAP Tear (Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior Tear)
  • Snapping Scapula Syndrome
  • Subacromial Bursitis
  • Suprascapular Neuropathy
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Winged Scapula


Our orthopedic experts are highly experienced in performing multiple types of treatments and surgeries for the shoulder including:

  • Absorbable Antibiotic Bead Treatment for Osteomyelitis
  • Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Separation Repair
  • Anesthesia
  • Arthroscopic Bankart Repair
  • Arthroscopic Capsular Plication/Release
  • Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Biceps Tenodesis
  • Cold Laser Therapy
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • Diagnostic Arthroscopy (Shoulder)
  • Distal Clavicle Excision (Resection Arthroscopic Technique)
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Glenohumeral Debridement
  • HemiCap® Resurfacing
  • Intracapsular (Glenoid) Injection
  • Joint Injection (Therapeutic Shoulder)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Mini-Open Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Multimodal Anesthesia and Pain Control
  • Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
  • ORIF Surgery for Proximal Humerus Fracture
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injection Ove
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
  • Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement
  • Rotator Cuff Repair (Mini-Open Supraspinatus Tendon-to-Bone Insertion)
  • Shoulder Impingement Surgery
  • Shoulder Resurfacing
  • SLAP Repair
  • Subacromial Injection
  • Suprascapular Nerve Block (Fluoroscopically Guided)
  • Total Shoulder Replacement
  • Ultrasound-Guided Injection for Shoulder Pain

Even if shoulder pain is not your primary concern, we also offer multiple solutions for a wide range of conditions – both with or without surgery. Visit one of Orthopedic Associates two locations or request an appointment today. We are fully committed to paving the path toward a pain-free life for you. 

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