The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that support the shoulder joint. Your rotator cuff not only keep the shoulder joint supported and enables its full range of movement, but is also essential to the healthy motion and stability of both your shoulders and arms.
The rotator cuff serves to keep the head of the upper arm bone secured inside the shoulder socket. If one of your rotator cuffs experiences a significant injury, it can lead to major problems. These include loss of motion and flexibility, pain, and discomfort. Rotator cuff injuries can cause dull shoulder aches that get worse if you sleep on the injured side.
What Causes Rotator Cuff Injuries?
Most rotator cuff injuries happen because of repeated overhead motions that are part of sports or work. Rotator cuff injuries are often seen in carpenters, painters, baseball and tennis players. Older individuals are more susceptible to rotator cuff injuries, as well.
However, rotator cuff injuries can also arise from single injuries, and these situations are considered emergency medical conditions and require immediate care. If you believe you have suddenly injured or torn your rotator cuff, you should seek medical attention right away.
Severe rotator cuff injuries may need surgical procedures to heal properly. Other injuries may require joint replacement or transfer of alternative tendons. Without the appropriate care, rotator cuff injuries can heal improperly. This can lead to severe complications with potentially permanent consequences.
What Does a Torn Rotator Cuff Feel Like?
Rotator cuff injuries can display a number of symptoms, and is quite unique. It often causes what is described as dull aching located deep within the shoulder. Rotator cuff injuries can often disturb your normal sleep cycle or comfortable sleeping positions. This is especially true if you tend to sleep on the injured side.
Rotator cuff injuries can make it difficult and even frustrating to perform everyday tasks, making it unusually difficult to brush your hair or scratch your back. Your arm may feel strangely weak as if it cannot perform as expected.
If you experience these warning signs, stop the activity that is causing pain and give your orthopaedic surgeon a call to schedule an appointment. If these symptoms come on suddenly during or after an activity, seek immediate medical attention as you may have experienced a severe rotator cuff tear.
Causes and Risk Factors of Tearing Your Rotator Cuff
Rotator cuff injuries can result from serious injury, such as strain or even impact, to the shoulder. Rotator cuffs can also become torn or damaged because of severe wear and tear or tissue degeneration. If you perform repeated overhead activities or often lift heavy objects for prolonged time periods, you have a greater risk of damaging your rotator cuffs.
There are a number of risk factors that can increase your chances of injuring your rotator cuff and, the older you are, the higher the risk of sustaining a rotator cuff injury. Most rotator cuff tears happen to people who are older than 40. As we age, our rotator cuffs tend to become more susceptible to strain.
Particular sports are associated with increased risk of rotator cuff injuries. Athletes who are required to perform the same repetitive arm motions are the most at-risk. Certain professional industries can also lead to increased risk of rotator cuff tears. This damage happens over time rather than in a single instant.
Rotator cuff injuries can be both painful and frustrating. The orthopaedic surgeons and physical therapists here at Prairie Orthopaedic are highly skilled in the repair and treatment of rotator cuff injuries. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain or are worried that you may have sustained damage to your rotator cuff, please don’t hesitate to give us a call and set up an appointment today!