Rotator cuff syndrome (shoulder injury)

Shoulder | Orthopaedics | Rotator cuff syndrome (shoulder injury) (Disease)


Rotator Cuff injury or strain is an injury to any of the four rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder.

Causes and Risk factors

This tends to happen as a result of a sudden, powerful movement. This might include falling over onto an outstretched hand at speed, making a sudden thrust with the paddle in kayaking, or following a powerful pitch/throw. Chronic tears are symptomatic of extended periods of use in conjunction with other factors such as poor biomechanics or muscular imbalance.

Most tears are the result of a wearing down of the tendon that occurs slowly over time. This degeneration naturally occurs as we age. Rotator cuff tears are more common in the dominant arm.

Diagnosis and Treatment

In patients with stage I impingement, conservative treatment is often sufficient. Conservative treatment involves resting and stopping the offending activity. It may also involve prolonged physical therapy. Sport and job modifications may be beneficial. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and ice treatments can relieve pain. Ice packs applied for 20 minutes three times a day may help. A sling is never used, because adhesive capsulitis can result from immobilization.

Patients with stage II impingement may require a formal physical therapy program. Isometric stretches are useful in restoring range of motion. Isotonic (fixed-weight) exercises are preferable to variable weight exercises. Thus, the shoulder exercises should be done with a fixed weight rather than a variable weight such as a rubber band. ...

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