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Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries are very common. They can occur when any irritation or damage affect the rotator cuff muscles or tendons. Many activities can lead to this type of injury including falling, lifting, repetitive overhead arm activities and degeneration of the rotator cuff tendon. The incidence of rotator cuff damage increases with age.

There are 3 distinct rotator cuff conditions:

  • Tendinitis

  • Bursitis

  • Strain or Tear

Tendinitis occurs when the rotator cuff tendons become inflamed due to overuse or overload.

Bursitis is an inflammation that occurs when the fluid-filled sac (bursa) between your shoulder joint and rotator cuff tendons become irritated. This can also be a cause of overhead activity or overuse of the shoulder muscle.

If the first two conditions are not dealt with, a person can experience a strain or tear in the rotator cuff region, which will require a more drastic treatment approach.


The most common symptoms associated with a rotator cuff injury are sharp shoulder pain and shoulder tenderness. Everyday activities such as scratching your head, putting on a shirt, lying down on the affected side and carrying a moderately light object will create pain over regular use of the arm. There will be an overall weakness in your arm and this weakness and pain will create anxiety that will prompt you to keep your shoulder inactive.



Rotator cuff injuries are very common problems and can many times be healed without treatment. If a patient has a mild rotator cuff injury, it is important to keep the hurt shoulder inactive with plenty of rest. Apply ice daily and use an anti-inflammatory medicine to help with any swelling and pain.


For patients who have significant injuries to the rotator cuff, or who are experiencing recurrent shoulder problems and defects after open and/or arthroscopic surgery has been performed, a rotator cuff repair might be recommended.

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