Rotator Cuff Injury

The rotator cuff is made up of a group of four muscles and several tendons that surround the top of the upper arm bone (humerus). The rotator cuff stabilises and moves the shoulder and enables the arm to rotate.

There are three common types of rotator cuff injury:

  1. Rotator cuff tendonitis

    Rotator cuff tendonitis is a condition where the tendons of the rotator cuff become inflamed due to injury or overuse of the shoulder. It is a common condition in those who are engaged in activities that involve repetitive movements of the shoulder.

    This condition can cause pain and weakness in the shoulder, especially when lifting the arm or reaching overhead.

  2. Rotator cuff tear

    A rotator cuff tear occurs when one or more of the tendons in the rotator cuff become partially or completely torn. This normally happens due to a fall, accident, or other traumatic injury.

  3. Rotator cuff impingement syndrome

    Rotator cuff impingement syndrome occurs when the tendons in the rotator cuff become compressed or trapped between the bones of the shoulder joint. This can be caused by a bone spur, inflammation, or repetitive overhead movements.

What are the symptoms of rotator cuff injury?

If you have shoulder pain that limits your ability to perform certain activities especially when reaching overhead or behind your back, you may be experiencing some form of rotator cuff injury.

Some symptoms are characteristic of specific types of injury.

  • Rotator cuff tendonitis: Generalised shoulder pain, or pain that worsens when lifting the arm or reaching overhead.
  • Rotator cuff tear: Pain, weakness, and limited range of motion in the shoulder.
  • Rotator cuff impingement syndrome: Chronic pain that worsens with limited range of motion in the shoulder.

What are the risk factors of rotator cuff injury?

Following are factors that can increase the risk of rotator cuff injury:

  • Age: Common in individuals older than 40 years old because the tendons are more susceptible to injury with age.
  • Repetitive overhead movements: Those who are doing certain sports and occupations that involve repetitive overhead motions, such as basketball, tennis, carpentry, are at a higher risk.
  • Traumatic injury: A fall or a direct blow to the shoulder can cause a rotator cuff injury.
  • Poor posture: Poor posture may cause imbalances in the shoulder muscles and increase the risk of rotator cuff injury.
  • Underlying medical conditions: Individuals with medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, and heart disease are at a higher risk.

How is rotator cuff injury diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made based on various investigations. Your doctor will first evaluate your medical history and symptoms before conducting a physical examination.

During a physical examination, your doctor will evaluate the range of motion in your shoulder joint and check for any signs of inflammation or muscle weakness.

Imaging tests such as X-ray and MRI may also be done to evaluate the extent of injury and rule out other causes of pain. An X-ray can help rule out other conditions, such as arthritis or a fracture. An MRI can provide a more detailed view of the soft tissues in the shoulder joint.

How is rotator cuff injury treated?

Treatment for rotator cuff injury depends on the type and severity of the injury. Treatment options may include the following:

  • Rest: Avoid activities that aggravate the injury to reduce strain on the shoulder and help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Pain relief: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physiotherapy: Exercises to improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint to prevent further injury.
  • Surgery: Surgery to repair the damaged tendons may be considered in severe cases and if all other treatments have not been successful.

Book an appointment at Pantai Hospitals

A dedicated and expert team of Orthopaedic specialists at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have concerns or questions regarding rotator cuff injury. We assure you the best possible care tailored to your specific needs.

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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