Rotator Cuff Injury

What are Rotator Cuff Disorders?

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that covers the shoulder joint. It works to move the shoulder and is vulnerable to damage, wear and tear. There is a spectrum of disorders related to rotator cuff, including impingement, tendon inflammation, tendon tear and joint degeneration.

Rotator cuff disorders are very common conditions that can happen to everyone. They sometimes are caused by a single injury such as a fall on the affected arm. More often, they are secondary to overuse following heavy lifting and activities involving repetitive shoulder movement.

The major symptom is painful shoulder movement especially when the patient lifts up his/her arm for activities above the shoulder level. The pain can limit the ability to lift the arm up, such as to comb or dress oneself. It also worsens at night and affects sleep quality. Following a tendon tear, the shoulder or arm may feel weak and stiff.

If rotator cuff disorders are adequately treated, patients can experience satisfactory recovery. Treatment options include:

  • Activity modification including avoiding overhead activities or anything that aggravates the pain.
  • Oral anti-inflammatory pain-killers
  • Shoulder exercise programme and physiotherapy to keep the shoulders strong and mobile
  • Steroid injection around the shoulder to reduce the pain and inflammation, so that the patient can undertake exercise programme
  • Surgery to relieve impingement and repair tendon tear

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