Rotator Cuff Injuries Common Cause of Shoulder Pain

DAYTON, Ohio (March 4, 2016) – A person’s rotator cuff plays an important role in helping them carry out many everyday activities. Unfortunately, rotator cuff issues are common and may be brought on by overuse activities or injuries.

The rotator cuff is located in the shoulder and is made up of four muscles and tendons. Its main function is to help the shoulder move and keep it stable at the same time. Many rotator cuff injuries occur with aging, when the tendons wear down and may eventually tear. Injuries can also occur when someone falls.

Frequent and repetitive use can also cause tendons to wear and tear. Repetitive overhead arm motion caused by sports or work activities can cause damage to the rotator cuff. Rotator cuff tears are almost always painful. It’s important to be familiar with the symptoms of rotator cuff injuries so you can seek medical attention when they arise.

Chronic tear – Pain, weakness, stiffness, and loss of motion slowly increases over time. Symptoms might not always be noticeable at first because they are minor at the beginning. Pain is worse at night than daytime, and symptoms worsen unless they are treated with medicines, rest, and/or exercise.

Sudden tear – Intense pain begins after a sudden tear from a fall or injury, followed by immediate weakness in the shoulder and arm after the injury. A snapping feeling can occur when moving the arm. Pain is worse at night than daytime, and symptoms worsen unless they are treated with medicines, rest, and/or exercise.

Tendinitis – Mild pain occurs when overhead reaching and lifting your arm from the side. Pain is more likely in the front of the shoulder and down the arm. If healing doesn’t take place, pain will persist. Weakness or loss of motion occurs when raising the arm above the head and is accompanied by stiffness in the shoulder.

There are many treatment options for rotator cuff issues and they can vary depending on the cause. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends the following treatment for tendinitis: 

  • Avoid painful activities.
  • Apply ice packs for 20 minutes at a time, 3 or 4 times a day.
  • Take medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen to ease the swelling and pain.
  • Inject a corticosteroid into the shoulder to help pain and swelling.
  • Utilize physical therapy to stretch and strengthen shoulder muscles.
  • Surgery may be needed as a last option.

The best way to avoid a rotator cuff injury is to stay healthy and exercise regularly. Your doctor can also recommend some exercises to help strengthen your shoulder and arm muscles to prevent rotator cuff issues.

Don Delcamp, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon with Premier Orthopedics, a Premier Health Specialists practice serving Miami County and surrounding areas.

Contact Us

Discover more about Premier Health and join us in building healthier communities in Southwest Ohio. Learn more about working at Premier Health, becoming a volunteer, and making a gift to support our mission.