Your rotator cuff consists of muscles and tendons that hold your shoulder in place. It keeps the shoulder joint stable and allows you to raise and rotate your arm.
Rotator cuff injuries are common and can cause a dull ache in the shoulder. They often worsen with the use of the arm away from the body, repeatedly performing overhead motions. Damage to the rotator cuff can be caused by overuse, a fall, or a direct blow to the shoulder area, which can tear the tendons. Treatment can depend upon whether the injury is a strain or a tear, and the amount of damage to the tendons.
Many people with rotator cuff injuries can manage their symptoms and return to activities with physical therapy exercises that improve flexibility and strength of the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint.
The pain associated with a rotator cuff injury may show symptoms such as:
- Recurrent pain, especially with certain activities
- Pain that prevents sleeping on the injured side
- Grating or cracking sounds when moving the arm
- Arm weakness or limited ability to move an arm
- Muscle weakness
The symptoms of a rotator cuff tear may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.