What You Need to Know About Rotator Cuff Injuries


January 9th, 2023

What You Need to Know About Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that form a “cuff” around the top of the bones in your shoulder. When you reach into the highest shelf on your closet, throw a ball with your dog, or go swimming with your friends, you’re using your rotator cuff muscles. These muscles are important as they help lift and rotate the arm to stabilize the ball of the shoulder within the joint.

As helpful as the rotator cuff can be, there are unfortunately many ways that injuries can occur. Athletes that use their arms in a repetitive swinging motion can overwork the muscles over time if not properly taken care of. Swimmers, golfers, baseball and tennis players are among athletes that should keep this in mind. You don’t have to be an athlete to overwork these muscles, however. Extended use of your arms above your head over time can cause inflammation to the muscles, causing weakness and fatigue. A hurt shoulder can make things like shoveling snow in the winter months very difficult and uncomfortable. Below are some symptoms of a rotator cuff injury to lookout for:

Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury

  • Recurring pain
  • Pain that interferes with your sleep
  • Grinding or crackling sound when moving your arm
  • Limited mobility in the injured arm
  • Muscle weakness

Non-Surgical Ways to Treat an Injury

  • Rest
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Corticosteroid injection
  • Physical therapy

But do I really need surgery?

People tend to want to avoid surgery as much as possible, but as the time off of work, rehabilitation, and the cost of surgery itself can be expensive and time consuming. Sometimes, however, surgery cannot be avoided and is the best option to heal your injury. It is important to seek the advice of a healthcare professional when you have tried treating your injury on your own and pain persists or worsens, or you continue to have limited movement in the injured arm over a long period of time.

If you have or are currently experiencing pain, don’t wait any longer. Our experienced Orthopedic Team at St. Joseph Hospital will help you find the relief and healing you need.

Albert Tom, MD

St. Joseph Hospital Orthopedics

St Joseph Hospital Orthopedics – Milford

Lindsay Campbell, APRN

St. Joseph Hospital Orthopedics

Emily Smith, PA-C

St. Joseph Hospital Orthopedics

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