Rotator Cuff Injury

Overview

The rotator cuff refers to the muscles and tendons that control movement and stabilize the joint in the shoulder. Rotator cuff injuries are any injury or irritation that affects the muscles and tendons in this area including tendonitis, bursitis or tears. These injuries can occur as a result of a fall or strain placed on the joints, muscles or tendons from lifting or repetitive motions. These injuries can be painful and affect range of motion, but most rotator cuff injuries are easily healed with at-home treatments.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The most common symptom of a rotator cuff injury is shoulder pain. Everyday activities such as reaching, lifting or putting weight on the affected shoulder is most likely to cause pain. The injured shoulder may have a reduced range of motion or feel weak. Unlike typical muscle soreness, these symptoms may last for more than a week.

The diagnosis for a rotator cuff injury begins with a physical exam. Sometimes, the type and severity of the injury cannot be determined through a simple physical, so the doctor may recommend more testing. Imaging tests such as x-rays, MRI and ultrasound scans can help determine the injury site and severity.

Causes

A rotator cuff injury is the result of tendonitis, bursitis or a tear to one of the four muscles or tendons connecting the humerus to the shoulder blade. This damage can be a normal part of wear and tear as people age, the result of repetitive movements that continually place strain on the muscles or tendons or an injury resulting from falling, lifting or pulling. Poor posture can also result in irritation to the rotator cuff.

Prevention

Not all rotator cuff injuries can be prevented, but good self-care can stop many injuries from occurring. It is important to maintain good posture, because poor posture can cause irritation from the shoulder blade rubbing against the tendons in the shoulder. It is important to keep shoulders strong through regular exercise to stabilize the joint and reduce risk of injury. Those who play sports or have jobs that require repetitive movements should take frequent brakes to stretch out the muscles. Cold and heat packs applied to the area can reduce irritation and inflammation. Continue reading for Treatment information . . .

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