Rotator cuff injuries are one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. A recent study in the Shoulder & Elbow Journal indicated that the rotator cuff is implicated as a cause of shoulder pain in approximately 70% of patients.
So, what is rotator cuff damage and how can you tell if you have damaged yours? Find out everything you need to know below.
Symptoms of rotator cuff damage
The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that cushion and stabilise the shoulder joint. They help to keep the upper arm bone connected to the shoulder. There are several ways these tendons and muscles can become damaged. Whether it is through repetitive movements, or trauma to the joint, a damaged rotator cuff will present the following symptoms:
- Difficulty raising your arm over your head or behind your back
- A dull ache that stems from deep in the shoulder
- Weakness in the arm
- Sleep disturbances
The pain felt from rotator cuff damage may vary, but it mostly presents as a dull ache rather than a sharp pain. Issues with mobility, such as not being able to move the arm behind your back, are also a potential sign that damage to the rotator cuff has occurred.
While weakness in the arm is a common symptom, it typically develops over time. If you have injured the shoulder and the arm is immediately weakened, you should seek advice from a doctor as soon as possible.
What causes rotator cuff damage?
There are a lot of potential causes of rotator cuff damage. It could be you suffer a direct injury to the shoulder, or the tendon tissue may simply have worn down over time. Establishing the cause is important before treatment can begin.
Although anybody can suffer rotator cuff damage, some people are more at risk than others. The main risk factors include:
- Older age: Rotator cuff injuries mostly occur in those aged over 60. The older you become, the higher the risk of rotator cuff damage.
- Certain occupations: Damage to the rotator cuff can occur over time due to repetitive movements of the shoulder joint. This means those in certain occupations, such as construction, are at an increased risk.
- Genetics: There is some evidence to suggest that rotator cuff damage has a genetic link. Rotator cuff injuries can be more prevalent in certain families.
Treating a damaged rotator cuff
Even if the rotator cuff damage is minimal, it is still important to seek treatment as early as possible. If it is left untreated, the damage could worsen, potentially leading to issues such as permanent weakness in the arm.
There are a variety of treatments available covering both surgical and non-surgical options. The treatment you need to undergo will depend upon the severity of the problem and the degree of function you’re hoping to achieve.
To determine if you are suffering from rotator cuff damage, book a consultation with one of our expert shoulder surgeons today. After diagnosing the issue, a treatment plan will be suggested based upon the type of damage that has occurred.