The rotator cuff is the network of 4 muscles and several tendons that form a covering around
the top of the upper arm bone. The rotator cuff holds the upper arm bone in place and enables
the arm to rotate. Rotator cuff injury and inflammation is one of the most common causes
of shoulder pain.
There are 3 common types rotator cuff injury:
- Rotator cuff tendonitis
- Rotator cuff impingement syndrome
- Rotator cuff tear
Rotator cuff tendonitis is caused by irritation and inflammation of the tendons of the rotator
cuff muscles. This may be due to an injury or overuse of the shoulder. It can occur in athletes
who participate in throwing sports or in non-athletes with a history of recent heavy lifting
or activities involving repetitive movements of the shoulder.
Symptoms include generalised shoulder pain, or pain that worsens with overhead activities or
In rotator cuff impingement syndrome, the rotator cuff tendon becomes trapped and the tendon
is repeatedly scraped against the shoulder blade, leading to fraying of the tendon. Symptoms
include chronic pain that worsens at night or with overhead activities.
Rotator cuff tears are tears in the rotator cuff tendon rather than in the muscles. Rotator cuff
tears normally happen as a result of a fall or an accident in younger people. In older people,
they are usually caused by rotator cuff impingement syndrome. Symptoms include pain and weakness.
If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your orthopaedic specialist. Your doctor will
recommend treatment options that best suit your lifestyle needs. Find out more about the
treatment options and
sports rehabilitation services available.