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How to Identify Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury

Anterior diagram of the rotator cuff, specifially labelling biceps, joint capsule, rotator cuff, and coracoacromial ligament

The rotator cuff involves the muscles and tendons that come together to form a covering around the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) and top of the shoulder. Prolonged periods of repetitive injury to the shoulder, usually resulting from overhead activities such as throwing sports or tennis, may cause tendonitis (inflammation) and eventual tearing in the rotator cuff. A traumatic event involving heavy lifting or a fall on the arm and shoulder may also injure the rotator cuff.

Symptoms of rotator cuff tendonitis or tear include:

  • pain in the front and/or down the outside of the shoulder
  • weakness
  • stiffness
  • loss of motion

Rotator cuff tendonitis may be treated with rest, anti-inflammatory medication or steroid injection. Consult a physician in sports medicine for a diagnosis and treatment of a rotator cuff injury.


Topics: Orthopedics
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