Introduction to rotator cuff pain
Injuries of the rotator cuff and subsequent inflammations can cause a variety of shoulder pain.
Essentially, there are three main injuries that affect the rotator cuff – tendonitis, impingement syndrome and tears.
A combination of painkillers, anti-inflammatory medications, physiotherapy and steroids can be used to treat most rotator cuff problems successfully.
In order to understand the function of the rotator cuff, it is important to understand the shoulder joint itself. The shoulder is made up of three bones, the collar bone, shoulder blade and upper arm bone. The three bones form parts of two main joints and there are also many muscles, ligaments and tendons around the shoulder that are involved in this complex system that creates the shoulder.
The rotator cuff is the group that is made up of four muscles around the shoulder joint. These muscles work as a unit and they work together to stabilize the shoulder joint and help with the movement of the shoulder joint.
The four tendons of the rotator cuff also join together to form a larger tendon which is jointly called the rotator cuff tendon.
Causes of pain
There are three common culprits of pain in the rotator cuff – tendonitis, impingement syndrome and cuff tears.
Rotator cuff tendonitis is the most common cause of shoulder pain that is reported. It is caused by the irritation and inflammation of the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles and it often results from a previous injury. It usually happens as a result of overusing the shoulder, especially in athletes like baseball pitchers who throw balls at very high speeds for hours at a time.
The rotator cuff can also become calcified, which means that calcium deposits result because of long-tern inflammation.
When a person has rotator cuff tendonitis, they will experience acute pain when moving their shoulders. They many also have significant problems with moving their shoulders, especially in an upward motion.
Rotator cuff impingement syndrome occurs when the tendon passes into the space underneath the shoulder blade and gets trapped.
The tendon is scrapped against the shoulder blade, which leads to the fraying of the tendon and pain as well.
A rotator cuff tear occurs when the tendon is torn, not the muscles themselves.
This usually occurs as a result of trauma, like a blow to the shoulder or a fall or some type of accident in which the shoulder is injured.
It is fairly common for elderly people to suffer tears in the tendons of the rotator cuff because they could have had impingement syndrome for a prolonged period of time, which could have caused a serious amount of wear and tear to the tendon over a period of many years.