Torn Rotator Cuff
The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons. These tendons connect the main muscles of the shoulder to the upper arm. The tendons and muscles stabilize the shoulder joint so you can raise and rotate your arm. Every time you raise your arm above your head, the upper tendon glides under the upper end of your shoulder blade.
An injury tears a rotator cuff tendon thatâ€™s been weakened by age or wear and tear. Weakness in the arm (and usually pain) are the symptoms.
Overuse may occur with or be closely related to repetitive activities. Normal motions made often over a long period can stress rotator cuff tissues. Athletes, including young people, may get tendinitis from overuse in throwing, swimming, and racquet sports.
Sudden tears may cause a rotator cuff injury. It takes tremendous force to tear a healthy rotator cuff tendon. This may happen while you are playing sports or during an accident or a severe fall.
In older, less active adults, even simple movements such as lifting a suitcase can cause a tear.
Without treatment, this cycle of inflammation, wear and tear, and limited use can lead to other shoulder problems, such as stiffness or frozen shoulder. Activities that require repeated overhead arm movements can lead to problems like bursitis and tendinitis.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, or other medicines can be used to relieve the pain of rotator cuff injuries.
Cortisone or another anti-inflammatory steroid medicine is injected into the shoulder. The reduction in inflammation helps relieve pain.
Physical therapy may benefit sufferers of a torn rotator cuff. Various exercises can improve the flexibility and strength of the other muscles in the rotator cuff. This increased strength can help compensate for a rotator cuff problem.
Similar to physical therapy, occupational therapy for rotator cuff injuries focuses on daily tasks that require shoulder movements.
Surgery may be used to treat a torn rotator cuff if the injury is very severe or if non-surgical treatment has failed to improve shoulder strength and movement sufficiently.