Rotator cuff disorders


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What are rotator cuff disorders?

The rotator cuff is a group of tough, flexible fibers (tendons) and muscles in the shoulder. Rotator cuff disorders occur when tissues in the shoulder get irritated or damaged. Rotator cuff disorders include:

  • Inflammation of the tendons (tendinitis) or of a bursa (bursitis)

In the shoulder, a bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that serves as a cushion between the tendons and the bones.

  • Impingement

In this type, a tendon is squeezed and rubs against bone.

  • Calcium buildup in the tendons

This can cause a painful condition called calcific tendinitis.

  • Partial or complete tears of the rotator cuff tendons

How common are rotator cuff disorders?

Older age, since most people are aged 60 or older, are more common to get this condition than others.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of rotator cuff disorders?

There are a great number of signs and symptoms of NHL. However, these signs and symptoms below are considered as the most common ones of NHL including:

  • Pain

Most often, the pain is on the side and front of the upper arm and shoulder. It may hurt or be impossible to do everyday things, such as comb your hair, tuck in your shirt, or reach for something. You may have pain during the night and trouble sleeping.

  • Weakness in the shoulder

You should always see your doctor anytime you experience persistent symptoms that concern you.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes rotator cuff disorders?

It is thought that most of rotator cuff disorders cases are caused by a combination of:

  • Normal wear and tear

Using your shoulder for many years slowly damages the rotator cuff. As you age, everyday activities can lead to changes in the rotator cuff, such as thinning and fraying of the tendons and reduced blood supply.

  • Overuse

Activities in which you use your arms above your head a lot-such as tennis, swimming, or house painting-can lead to rotator cuff problems. Even normal motions made often over a long period can stress or injure the rotator cuff.

It takes great force to tear a healthy rotator cuff tendon. This can occur during sports, an accident, or a severe fall. But even a simple movement like lifting a suitcase can cause a rotator cuff tear in an older adult or someone whose shoulder is already damaged.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for rotator cuff disorders?

Many people with this disorder have no obvious risk factors. The most common factor that may increase the risk including older age, since most people are aged 60 or older when diagnosed.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How are rotator cuff disorders diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you experience this condition, physical examination will be performed by him/her. Some common tests are then recommended as well.

To diagnose a rotator cuff disorder, doctors ask about any shoulder injuries or past shoulder pain. They also do a physical exam to see how well the shoulder works and to find painful areas or activities. Moving your arm in certain ways can help a doctor learn about the condition of the rotator cuff.

You may have an X-ray to check the bones of the shoulder. If the diagnosis is still unclear, the doctor may order an imaging test, such as an MRI or an ultrasound.

How are rotator cuff disorders treated?

It is important to treat a rotator cuff problem. Without treatment option, your shoulder maybe easily weakens and you may not be able to lift up your arm.

For most rotator cuff disorders, you will be recommended some basic steps, including:

  • Rest the shoulder

Use the arm, but do so carefully. Don’t keep the shoulder still with a sling or brace. This can lead to stiffness or even a frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis).

  • Use ice or heat on the shoulder, whichever feels better
  • Take anti-inflammatory drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

This type of medication plays a role in relieving pain and reducing swelling and inflammation. Examples include ibuprofen (such as Advil) and naproxen (such as Aleve). Or try acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). It can help with pain but will not reduce swelling or inflammation. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

  • Avoid positions and activities that are uncomfortable

Such as lifting or reaching overhead. Stop any activity that hurts the shoulder.

The doctor may also suggest physical therapy. Physical therapy can relieve pain and help make your shoulder stronger and more flexible. In physical therapy, you learn exercises to stretch and strengthen your shoulder. After you learn the exercises, you can do them at home.

It is noticed that most rotator cuff disorders cases aren’t treated with surgery. But doctors may do surgery if a rotator cuff tendon is torn or if several months of other treatments have not helped.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage rotator cuff disorders?

This disorder is preventable if you can follow these tips below:

  • Keep the muscles in your shoulders flexible and strong by daily exercises.
  • Have good posture at all times
  • Don’t lift objects that are too heavy
  • Don’t catch falling objects.
  • Don’t keep your arms out to the side or raise over your head for long periods of time, such as when painting a ceiling.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: July 7, 2017 | Last Modified: July 7, 2017

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