A torn rotator cuff can occur due to several factors, including:
- Acute injury- The rotator cuff becomes injured due to a fall, sports injury, automobile accident or other trauma. Immediate pain and functional loss are noted.
- Chronic overuse- The rotator cuff becomes damaged due to continuous, repetitive movement in sports activities such as swimming, tennis and baseball pitching. Overuse can also be caused by repetitive work lifting. In addition, rotator cuff tears can occur as a function of aging due to tendon degeneration.
- Degeneration- The rotator cuff can tear as a patient ages and degeneration of the muscles and tendons occur along with normal wear and tear.
Any of these factors can contribute to a torn rotator cuff. Other common conditions, such as tendonitis and impingement, can also contribute to a rotator cuff injury.
Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury
The most common symptoms of a torn rotator cuff are sharp shoulder pain, weakness and tenderness of the shoulder. These symptoms arise from the inflammation that accompanies the damage. Everyday activities, such as lying down on the affected shoulder, lifting the arm and carrying an item, will create pain. Patients often report pain over the lateral (outside) portion of the arm which may radiate to the elbow and pain at night.
Diagnosis of a Torn Rotator Cuff
In order to determine the extent of rotator cuff damage, Dr. Verma will conduct a thorough examination and will look for any deformities, weakness or muscle wasting in the affected shoulder. He will carefully assess range of motion and strength, as well as manipulate the bones and muscles to find areas of tenderness and pain. In addition, a variety of tests may be utilized to determine the muscle and tendon damage including X-rays and an MRI.
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