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Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries are a common cause of shoulder pain and disability, affecting the rotator cuff – a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder. Injuries to the rotator cuff can range from mild strains to complete tears.

Causes and Risk Factors

Rotator cuff injuries often result from wear and tear over time, making them more common in older individuals. They can also occur due to acute injuries like falls or lifting something heavy. Athletes or workers who frequently perform overhead activities are at higher risk.


Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include pain at rest and at night, particularly if lying on the affected shoulder, pain when lifting and lowering the arm or with specific movements, weakness when lifting or rotating the arm, and a crackling sensation when moving the shoulder in certain positions.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis involves a physical examination, medical history, and imaging tests like X-rays or MRIs. Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. Non-surgical options include rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy focused on improving shoulder strength and flexibility. For more severe injuries, particularly complete tears, surgery may be required to repair the torn tendon.

Prevention and Management

Preventive measures include regular shoulder exercises to maintain strength and flexibility, proper technique during activities, and avoiding repetitive overhead motions.

Rotator cuff injuries, if treated promptly and properly, often have a good prognosis, allowing individuals to return to their normal activities without significant limitations. Early intervention and adherence to a rehabilitation program are critical for recovery.