The Anatomy of a Rotator Cuff Injury

Your shoulder joint has the widest range of motion of any joint in your body. Whenever you reach or stretch your arm, you’re using your shoulder.

Your rotator cuff consists of a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize and strengthen your shoulder joint. Your rotator cuff holds your arm firmly in your shoulder socket and allows you to move your arm.

Rotator cuff injuries, which affect the muscles and tendons in the shoulder, are the most common shoulder injuries. Anyone from professional athletes to weekend warriors can suffer a rotator cuff injury due to overuse or an accident.

If your shoulder is causing you pain, it might be a rotator cuff injury. Struan Coleman, MD, PhD, is an orthopedic surgeon with practices in New York City, Locust Valley, New York, and Philadelphia. In this blog, Dr. Coleman discusses rotator cuff injuries and how they can be treated.

Rotator cuff tendinitis

Tendons are bands of soft tissue that connect your muscles to your bones. When you have rotator cuff tendinitis, the tendons in your shoulder are irritated and inflamed. 

Symptoms of rotator cuff tendinitis include:

Rotator cuff tendinitis typically develops with overuse. Your tendons might get inflamed if you move your arm in repeated motions at work or in sports or if you sleep on your shoulder every night.

Rotator cuff bursitis

Bursitis is a more serious form of rotator cuff injury, and it can develop if rotator cuff tendinitis is left untreated. With bursitis, inflammation in the rotator cuff spreads to the bursa, a sac of fluid that cushions the tendons, bones, joints, and muscles in your shoulder. 

The sac works to keep your shoulder joint moving smoothly, but inflammation can cause pain and stiffness. Symptoms of bursitis can be similar to those of tendinitis, but the pain is often worse at night.

Rotator cuff tear

A rotator cuff tear is the most severe form of rotator cuff injury. A tear can develop over time or as the result of an acute injury. If you suffer a rotator cuff tear, the tendons connecting your muscles to your bones stretch and rip.

A rotator cuff tear, which can be partial or full, can cause pain, arm weakness, and loss of motion in the arm. Leaving a rotator cuff tear untreated could result in the permanent loss of function in your shoulder. Fortunately, rotator cuff surgery can restore mobility and eliminate the pain.

If you’ve suffered a rotator cuff injury, trust your shoulder to Dr. Coleman. He and the rest of his team are experts in diagnosing and treating shoulder injuries. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Struan Coleman, MD, PhD, today.

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