Rotator Cuff Injury: Causes and Treatment

Causes of Rotator Cuff Injury

Repetitive stress — activities which stress the same part of the body

Lack of blood supply — the blood supply in the rotator cuff tendons lessen and the tendons get damaged

Bone spurs — the bone may develop a growth and rub on the rotator cuff tendon causing pain

Acute tear — occurs when you jerk the arm or lift something heavy and the tendon gets partially torn

Degenerative tear — result of wearing down of the tendon over time

Types of rotator cuff injuries

• Partial tear — damages the tendon but doesn’t sever it

• Full-thickness tear — The tendon is completely torn


1. Pain at night when lying on affected shoulder

2. Pain when lifting and lowering arm

3. Weakness in arm and shoulder

4. Crackling when moving shoulder

5. Sudden tears can cause shooting pain up the arm

6. Degenerative tears develop over time and pain increases slowly

Tests to check for rotator cuff injury

• Physical examination — To rule out arthritis or a pinched nerve

• X-Ray — To check for bone spurs

• MRI — To check for tissue and tendon damage/pinpoint area of the tear



• Rest.

• Avoid activities that cause shoulder pain.

• Non steroidal anti-inflammatory medication

• Strengthening exercises and physical therapy

• Steroid injection for severe pain

Surgical Treatment

If your pain doesn’t get better with non surgical treatment, you may have to opt for surgical options. Your doctor will recommend surgical options in case:

• Pain doesn’t reduce in 6 to 12 months

• Tear becomes larger

• Significant weakness in arm

• Loss of function in your shoulder

• An acute injury


This will include:

• Pain medication

• Rest

• Physiotherapy