The term rotator cuff injury includes a ring of four muscles of the shoulder. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint with the arm bone (humerus) meeting the shallow socket called the glenoid fossa. This socket is part of the shoulder blade (scapula).
Rotator cuff muscles provides support and movement for the shoulder. These muscles, known as the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis, attach the shoulder blade and upper arm bone and keep the arm bone against the shoulder socket.
Rotator cuff muscles and tendons can be injured many ways. The most common form of injury is prolonged stress over time, or with a sudden injury such as a fall. In an overuse injury, the soft tissues may begin as fraying, often caused by repeated activities. Rotator cuff tendinopathy is a long-term overuse tendon injury with the damage to the tendon occurring at a microscopic level.
Symptoms of rotator cuff tendinopathy can include shoulder pain, stiffness, and weakness. You may have difficulty raising the arms overhead or lifting objects, especially above shoulder height. Getting dressed, washing your hair, or tucking in a shirt may be difficult. Sleeping may be limited because of shoulder pain.
While recovering from rotator cuff tendinopathy, you may need to avoid activities that are repeated or painful, such as swimming or playing tennis. Therapy can help you learn how to keep the shoulder moving while protecting the healing tissues with activities for stretching, strengthening, and for healthy posture.