What is the Rotator Cuff?

The Rotator Cuff is: The 4 tendons (supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus, and teres minor) that extend from muscles of the scapula (shoulder blade) to the head of the humerus (the upper arm bone).

What are the Causes of a Rotator Cuff Injury?

There are many ways a rotator cuff can become injured, but the result is usually the tearing of one or more of the four supporting tendons. Most commonly, rotator cuff tears occur as a result of chronic, degenerative changes that are not associated with a traumatic event. Not all rotator cuff injuries feature a complete tear, some only have partial tears.

For complete tears, surgery is required as a result of a tendon retracting or being disconnected from the bone. Post-op recovery typically last between 6 and 8 months, and includes the wearing of a sling/brace, and physical therapy.

Some additional common causes of rotator cuff injury include:

  • Traumatic injury, such as falling onto an outstretched arm
  • Throwing a baseball
  • Swinging a golf club
  • Holding onto something while falling

What are the Treatments For a Rotator Cuff Injury?

Not all rotator cuff tears require surgery.  Nonsurgical treatment options vary, and are dependent upon the severity of your injury. Some common treatments include:

  • Corticosteroid injections for temporary, but significant relief from pain and inflammation.
  • Decreasing activity levels to lower pain.
  • Physical therapy sessions featuring rotator cuff focused exercises.
  • Use of NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen to effectively reduce pain and swelling.

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