You rely on your shoulders throughout the day. Whether you’re reaching into a cabinet, cooking dinner, or driving, all of these actions require your shoulder muscles. And if your shoulder hurts, it can stop you in your tracks.
If you’re suffering severe shoulder pain, a rotator cuff injury could be to blame. Your rotator cuff consists of a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize your shoulder and hold your arm in place. Your rotator cuff allows you to move your shoulders, but overuse can cause muscle strain or a tear.
Rotator cuff injuries range in severity, but they almost always cause pain. Kristopher Downing, MD, and Daniel Brereton, DO, at Upper Extremity Specialists, of Synergy Orthopedic Specialists Medical Group, offer comprehensive care for shoulder injuries, including rotator cuff issues. In this blog, they explain some of the kinds of rotator cuff injuries and what their symptoms are.
Recognizing the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury
Your shoulders are extremely flexible. Their range of motion helps you move through life. Unfortunately, this flexibility can also make them susceptible to injury. Everyone, from professional athletes to hobbyists, is at risk for suffering rotator cuff injuries.
Rotator cuff injuries can develop with time, especially if you make repeated motions. They can also occur due to acute injuries, such as collisions and falls.
Most of the time, rotator cuff damage causes shoulder pain. Along with pain, other common symptoms of a rotator cuff injury can include:
- Pain that worsens at night
- Numbness or tingling
- Loose feeling in the shoulder
- Crackling sensation with movement
Pain may be mild at first, but it can worsen over time. If your rotator cuff damage is the result of an acute injury, pain may be very intense from the start.
The different types of rotator cuff injuries
Your rotator cuff consists of several muscles and tendons. Tendons are bands of soft tissue that connect muscles to bones, and the muscles allow you to move your arm.
There are three main types of rotator cuff injuries: tendinitis, bursitis, and tears.
Rotator cuff tendinitis
Tendinitis develops when the tendons in your rotator cuff get irritated. Irritation can cause inflammation and pain. Rotator cuff tendinitis most often develops due to overuse, but sleeping on the same shoulder every night can also cause it.
Rotator cuff bursitis
Bursitis is more severe than tendinitis, and it can develop if rotator cuff tendinitis isn’t treated properly. With rotator cuff bursitis, inflammation spreads from the tendons in the shoulder to the bursae in the shoulder. Bursae are sacs of fluid that cushion joints.
Bursitis can cause more severe pain than tendinitis, and it may restrict your range of motion more. Pain from rotator cuff bursitis is often worse at night.
Rotator cuff tear
The most severe type of rotator cuff injury is a rotator cuff tear. If you have a rotator cuff tear, the tendons in your shoulder stretch beyond their limit and rip.
Rotator cuffs can have partial or full tears. It’s often impossible to continue using your shoulder and your arm if you have a rotator cuff tear, because the injury can cause severe pain and loss of function.
You shouldn’t ignore shoulder pain. Rotator cuff tendinitis and bursitis can both benefit from professional care. And rotator cuff tears won’t heal on their own, so they need medical treatment to stop the pain and restore mobility.
From pain medications and joint injections to surgical repair, Dr. Downing and Dr. Brereton offer customized treatment plans for people dealing with rotator cuff injuries. If you have a rotator cuff injury and want treatment, or if you want to see if you have a rotator cuff injury, book an appointment online or over the phone with Upper Extremity Specialists today.