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Reviewed by

Dr. Lokesh A V

Consultant - Orthopaedic & Robotic Joint Replacement Surgery

Manipal Hospitals, Old Airport Road

Rotator Cuff Shoulder Injury: Why Does It Occur?

Reviewed by:

Dr. Lokesh A V

Posted On: Mar 22, 2024

blogs read 5 Min Read

Rotator Cuff Shoulder Injury - Types, Causes and Treatments

The rotator cuff is a crucial part of the shoulder joint. It consists of muscles and tendons, stabilising your shoulder and facilitating shoulder movements (like lifting your arms and reaching upward). This complex structure holds your humeral head and is highly susceptible to injuries. 

Rotator cuff tears are a common cause of pain and disability among young adults. It can cause recurrent pain and discomfort, especially during some specific activities and at night. Certain symptoms can be detected if you have a rotator cuff injury, like muscle weakness, cracking sound while moving your arm, limited arm mobility, etc. These conditions can significantly affect your shoulder functions and make even the simplest task challenging. Talk to an experienced orthopaedician in Bangalore to detect the condition in time and get proper rotator cuff tear treatment. 


Types of Rotator Cuff Injuries

To diagnose and treat rotator cuff injuries accurately, be aware of the different types:

  • Tendinitis: It causes inflammation to your rotator cuff tendons. Repetitive motions, overuse, or sudden trauma can cause this condition. It can cause pain, tenderness, and swelling to the affected shoulder. 

  • Bursitis: There is a fluid-filled sack between your rotator cuff tendons and bones. This is called the bursa. It is responsible to provide a cushioning effect between these tendons and bones and reduce friction. The inflammation of the bursa is called bursitis. Arthritis, repetitive overhead motions, trauma, etc., can result in this condition. You may experience a limited range of motion with your affected shoulder, along with pain and swelling.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears: It is the partial or complete tear of your rotator cuff. The common causes behind these tears are severe trauma, excessive use of shoulders, degenerative changes with ageing, etc. Partial-thickness tears don’t completely disconnect your tendons from the insertion site. However, full-thickness tears spread entirely through your tendon while compromising its integrity and functions.

Why Do Rotator Cuff Injuries Occur?

There are 2 main causes of rotator cuff tears: Injury and Degeneration

If you suddenly fall on an outstretched hand, an injury to tear to the rotator cuff may occur. The condition can deteriorate over time due to repetitive activities, catching between the top bone (acromion) and the below one (humeral head). For individuals involved in sports like tennis, baseball, swimming, or even painting, the repetitive motions of your shoulder can cause rotator cuff tears. 

The rotator cuff also undergoes degenerative changes with age. Its flexibility becomes less and more prone to injury. Such degeneration can weaken tendons and even minimal overuse can cause tears. Weakness in your core muscles can also cause rotator cuff injuries. It can put a strain on your tendons and predispose them to injury.

Consult an orthopaedic hospital in Bangalore if you need treatment for shoulder cuff injury.

Rotator Cuff Injuries Treatment

An MRI is the preferred diagnostic procedure to study any shoulder pathology, including rotator cuff tears and potential factors that may lead to injury. The severity of rotator cuff injuries can vary. The appropriate treatment approach depends on how severe your symptoms are. 

  • Rest is just sufficient if you have a mild injury. It will allow your injured tendons to heal with time. Avoid strenuous activities and modify your daily chores to rest the tendons as much as possible. 

  • Medications, usually including Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can help you alleviate pain and inflammation. However, it is not recommended to consume these medicines without your doctor’s prescription. 

  • Physiotherapy is also a beneficial rehabilitation procedure where professionals can help you design individualised programmes to focus on your specific requirements, strengthen your muscles, and improve your flexibility. There are strengthening and stretching exercises that can restore your shoulder’s stability. Do not implement these exercises on your own if your doctor does not recommend them. Or else, you may just make things worse.

  • Ultrasound therapy, being a part of your comprehensive physiotherapy routine, can help improve rotator cuff injuries. It is a non-invasive method and uses high-frequency waves to stimulate the repairing procedure of your tissues. It can amazingly reduce your pain and inflammation. 

  • Corticosteroid injection is usually administered if you have consistent pain. They can temporarily release your discomfort by reducing inflammation. They are used only in severe cases. 

  • Surgical methods are undertaken if other conservative treatments are unable to treat your condition.

  • Arthroscopy (key-hole) procedure is usually the most common procedure to repair torn tendons.  Rotator cuff surgery includes the decompression of the acromion bone (impingement) and the repair of the torn tendon.

  • Superior Capsular Reconstruction uses graft tissues, biceps tendon, or allograft to repair and restore your shoulder's stability when the tendon is retracted more inside and/or wasting (conversion to fat) happens due to delay in the treatment. 

  • Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty replaces your damaged joint surfaces with a metal ball on the glenoid side and a plastic (poly) socket on the humeral head. This approach is followed when your tear can’t be repaired and you already have arthritis. 

For the most suitable treatment option for your rotator cuff injury, consult the top orthopaedic surgeon at Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road, Bangalore.



Even though the symptoms may vary depending on the severity of your injury, the most common ones include the following: 

  • Pain in your shoulder, which usually versions at night or with certain movements

  • Difficulty lifting your arm

  • Weakness in your arm

  • Popping sounds in your shoulder

  • Difficulty reaching behind your back

Rotator cuff pain does not always mean that you have a complete tear. Bursitis, tendinitis, etc., can also cause pain. To diagnose the exact cause, visit our experienced orthopaedic surgeon in Bangalore. 

Your recovery from rotator cuff injuries must include certain exercises. However, their type and intensity should be modified depending on the severity of your injury. Talk to your doctor before implementing anything in your daily routine to prevent further problems. 

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