The rotator cuff is comprised of a group of tendons and muscles that border the joint of the shoulder and keeps the arm bone tightly within the shallow socket of the shoulder. The rotator cuff has four muscles that helps in the movement of the shoulder and maintain stability of the joint. The four muscles are the subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor.
Injury to the rotator cuff usually happens among people who are repeatedly performing overhead movements in sports or in their jobs. It causes a dull ache in the shoulder which becomes worse when trying to lie on the affected side. People prone to this condition include carpenters, painters, and those playing tennis or baseball. Remember that the risk for rotator cuff injury increases with age.
Sometimes, injury of the rotator cuff can happen due to a single injury and it is vital to seek medical help immediately.
- Rotator cuff injury are common in older people usually after 40 due to the degenerative process of the tissues and constant wearing and tearing makes the condition worse. The development of bone spurs in the shoulder bone can cause injury to the rotator cuff muscles.
- Lifting and pulling heavy objects can cause straining of the muscles and tendons of the shoulder joint and leads to irritation, tears and difficulty with movement.
- A direct blow to the joint or falling on the arm
- Performing repeating movements can result to irritation and inflammation of the tendons which eventually becomes torn.
- Weakness of the shoulder joint, pain, reduced range of movement and inability to use the affected shoulder.
- The symptoms happen suddenly when the rotator cuff injury is severe along with intense pain in the joint of the shoulder and spreads to the back and towards the elbow.
- Inability to move the arms due to spasms of the rotator cuff muscles.
- Internal bleeding and hematoma can form in the shoulder joint.
- Get plenty of rest especially the affected joint of the shoulder. Avoid performing activities that cause pain in the joint such as lifting heavy objects. Minimize overhead activities until the pain totally disappears.
- Support the shoulder using a sling for a few days in order to prevent the shoulder joint from becoming stiff.
- Apply cold and warm compress on the affected area. Place a few ice cubes in a clean towel and place on the injured joint of the shoulder for at least 10 minutes every hour if the pain is severe. The cold compress helps lessen the pain and inflammation. When the pain is minimized, apply the cold compress on the affected area to help relax the spasm of the muscles.
- Seek the help of a physical therapist for physiotherapy exercises that helps strengthen and improve the flexibility of the shoulder muscles.
- Take over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications to help lessen the pain and inflammation.