Rotator Cuff Injury
(Rotator Cuff Tear; Impingement Syndrome)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A rotator cuff injury may be tendinitis, a strain, or a tear of the muscles and tendons that support the shoulder. It can take 2 to 6 months or longer to fully heal.
It may be caused by:
This problem is more common in people aged 40 years and older. Other things that may raise your risk are:
The injury may cause:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. An exam will be done. The shoulder will be checked.
Images may need to be taken of the shoulder. This can be done with:
The problem is treated based on the level of injury. Options are:
Initial care may be:
Bones, tendons, and muscles may need to be repaired with surgery. It may be done through small incisions using arthroscopy. Fractures that are worse may need to be done through larger incisions that take longer to heal.
To lower the chances of this injury:
The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
The University of British Columbia Department of Orthopaedics
Matthewson G, Beach CJ, Nelson AA, et al. Partial Thickness Rotator Cuff Tears: Current Concepts. Adv Orthop. 2015;2015:458786.
Rotator cuff tear. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/rotator-cuff-tear . Updated February 16, 2017. Accessed September 19, 2019.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Last Updated: 6/3/2020
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