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Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator Cuff Injury

What is rotator cuff injury?

The rotator cuff consists of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder in place. It is one of the most important parts of the shoulder. The rotator cuff allows a person to lift his or her arms and reach up. An injury to the rotator cuff, such as a tear, may happen suddenly when falling on an outstretched hand or develop over time due to repetitive activities. Rotator cuff tears are also due to aging.

What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear?

Anatomy of the shoulder
Click Image to Enlarge

The following are the most common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Recurrent pain, especially with certain activities and at night

  • Pain that prevents sleeping on the injured side

  • Grating or cracking sounds when moving the arm

  • Limited ability to move arm

  • Muscle weakness

The symptoms of a rotator cuff tear may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

More Information About Shoulder Conditions from Johns Hopkins Medicine

shoulder X-ray

Wear and Tear of Your Shoulder: No Gain, Just Pain

The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body and is susceptible to wear and tear just like the hips. Johns Hopkins shoulder surgeon Dr. Uma Srikumaran discusses some of the most common shoulder conditions associated with everyday wear and tear, including their symptoms and treatments.

Read more.

How is a rotator cuff injury diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for a rotator cuff injury may include the following:

  • X-ray. A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

A rotator cuff may tear partially or fully. Partial-thickness tears do not completely sever the tendon from the shoulder.

Information About Total Shoulder Replacements from Johns Hopkins Medicine

elder patient grabbing shoulder and talking to doctor

Total Shoulder Replacements: Frequently Asked Questions

Johns Hopkins shoulder experts provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about total shoulder replacements, including:

  • When is a shoulder replacement indicated?
  • What part of the shoulder is replaced?
  • What are the results of total shoulder replacement surgery?
  • What are the possible complications of total shoulder replacement surgery?

Learn more.

Treatment for a rotator cuff injury

Specific treatment for a rotator cuff injury will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent and duration of the condition

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the condition

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Rest

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications

  • Strengthening and stretching exercises

  • Ultrasound therapy

  • Corticosteroid injection

  • Surgery (for severe injuries)

Information About Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement from Johns Hopkins Medicine

X-ray of a reverse total shoulder replacement

Reversing the Course of Shoulder Disability

Reverse total shoulder replacement surgery may be an option for patients with shoulder degeneration and debilitating shoulder problems. Johns Hopkins shoulder surgeon Dr. Uma Srikumaran explains how this technology can be used to treat people who are not candidates for normal total shoulder replacement.

Read more.

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