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Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

Understanding Rotator Cuff InjuriesLesiones del manguito de rotadores

Understanding Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff is a powerful team of muscles and connecting tendons. These muscles and tendons attach your upper arm to your shoulder blade. Your rotator cuff helps you reach, throw, push, pull, and lift. Without it, your shoulder would be nearly useless.

Cutaway view of shoulder

A Healthy Rotator Cuff

A healthy rotator cuff gives your shoulder flexibility, and control. The muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff hold your upper arm bone (humerus) in your shoulder socket (glenoid). Your rotator cuff also assists the large muscle covering your shoulder (deltoid muscle) with movements.

Cutaway view of rotator cuff
One type of injury to the rotator cuff is overuse tendinitis. Activities like golfing, pitching, or carrying luggage may cause repetitive stress within the rotator cuff. This can lead to irritation, bruising, or fraying.

A Damaged Rotator Cuff

Pain told you that something was wrong with your shoulder. Now that you know it's a rotator cuff problem, you may wonder what caused it. Rotator cuff tendons can become damaged or inflamed (tendinitis) in many ways. These include irritation (overuse), pinching (impingement), calcium deposits (calcification), and splitting (tears). Any of these conditions can make your shoulder weak, tender, and painful.

Making Your Shoulder Healthy Again

Care for your injury will most likely begin with nonsurgical treatments ranging from simple rest to pain-soothing injections. Your doctor will tell you how often you may need these treaments. If the treatments relieve your pain, you will be given an exercise program to restore your shoulder's power. If your pain just won't quit, you and your doctor may decide you need surgery.

Publication Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Online Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Date Last Reviewed: 2007-01-15T00:00:00-07:00

Date Last Modified: 2002-07-09T00:00:00-06:00

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Torrance A. Walker, M.D.