The rotator cuff is comprised of a group of muscles and tendons that attach to the humerus (the bone of the upper arm) and surround the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff’s purpose is to hold the head of the humerus firmly in the shoulder socket, to allow the shoulder to function properly. The muscles and tendons in the rotator cuff are what help you move, lift and rotate your arms.
Rotator cuff injuries can range from having simple inflammation in one of the muscles or tendons of the rotator cuff, to having complete tears within them. Impingement syndrome, rotator cuff tears, tendinitis and many other conditions fall under the umbrella term of rotator cuff injuries. Such conditions may result from a single injury to the shoulder, progressive degeneration or wear and tear of the muscles and tendons. Although rotator cuff injuries can occur to anyone, the risk of getting them does increase with age, being most common after the age of 40. People who regularly participate in certain sports or work in occupations that consist of repetitive arm motions, such as baseball, tennis, arching, construction, and carpentry, also have an increased risk of getting these injuries.
Symptoms associated with rotator cuff injuries may include:
- Deep, dull or sharp pain in the shoulder
- Pain at rest or when sleeping, especially when lying on the affected shoulder
- Difficulty lifting arms up and to the sides, rotating arms or placing them behind your back
- Arm weakness and loss of motion
One of the initial and very effective forms of treatment for rotator cuff injuries is Physical Therapy. Physical therapy exercises can help restore movement and strength in your shoulder. Along with exercises, specific physical therapy stretches can improve your flexibility and range of motion. It is possible for therapy to completely restore movement and eliminate pain.
If not treated properly in a timely manner, rotator cuff injuries can lead to permanent stiffness or weakness in the shoulder and progressive degeneration of the shoulder joint. It is highly recommended that you visit your Doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.