Rotator Cuff Injury: Everything You Need to Know

March 22, 2018

Rotator cuff injuries can sometimes develop after you’ve attempted to cushion a fall, most likely your shoulder, or after you’ve done some heavy lifting. These types of injuries are most commonly found in people over the age of 40, but can also occur in athletes, especially those like baseball pitchers, who regularly use repetitive arm motions.

To make sure you are prepared for a rotator cuff injury, it’s important to know what symptoms to look for and how to treat this type of injury.

What is a Rotator Cuff Injury?

Four muscles make up the rotator cuff, which helps stabilize and move the shoulder joint. These muscles also help adjust the position of the humeral head, the upper end of the bone on the upper arm, and the shoulder blade, during any type of shoulder movement.

Those muscles can be damaged in more ways than one, causing either an acute rotator cuff tear, chronic tear, tendinitis, or glenohumeral subluxation.

  • Acute rotator cuff tear
    • Develops after a heavy fall, and for those under the age of 30, would require a large amount of force to injure.
  • Chronic tear
    • Typically, this relates to baseball pitchers and tennis players and can result after a previous acute injury that’s affected the anatomy of the rotator cuff, which can cause inflammation.
    • Symptoms include decreased range of motion and worsening pain.
  • Tendinitis
    • Happens with age, as the muscles and tendons begin to wear out.
    • The area of the tendon that attaches to the bone has a poor blood supply. An injury that at first seems small could wind up leading to a cuff tear.
  • Glenohumeral subluxation
    • Occurs after repetitive stress.
    • When the muscles of the rotator cuff are stressed, this can lead to discomfort, muscle weakness and chronic injury.


There’s nothing worse than experiencing aches and pains when you’re unsure of what they are. Usually, a rotator cuff injury will feel like a deep, dull ache in the shoulder, making it difficult to reach behind your back. Those who are injured can experience a limit to the range of motion of the shoulder. Sometimes even sleeping can be difficult, as the pain is worse at night.

How to Treat This Injury

Did you know that not all shoulder pain starts in the shoulder? Sometimes pain from coronary artery disease, the gallbladder or diaphragm, can be felt in the shoulder blade area of the shoulder region. If your pain prevents you from overhead reaching, playing sports and continues to persist, be sure to apply ice to your shoulder pain and get plenty of rest. Some that are experiencing a rotator cuff injury will need to take anti-inflammatory medications as well.

This article was adapted from emedicinehealth. Read the full article here.

If you have any questions about rotator cuff injuries, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.


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