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There is no doubt that you’ve at least heard the term rotator cuff before. Whether your favorite athlete has torn theirs, or your uncle Bobby had his fixed.  You probably know that it’s a group of muscles that surrounds your shoulder joint. However, do you know how the rotator cuff works? In this blog you will find out what the function of the rotator cuff is, how the rotator cuff works, and how to keep yours healthy. 

As previously mentioned, the rotator cuff consists of four muscles.

How Do You Injure the Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff can be damaged by acute trauma or due to age-related wear of the tissue.  One study showed that with age-related tears, nearly 50% of people over the age of 50 do not recall an injury that caused the tear.  Those who participate in activities that require repetitive overhead use are more prone to rotator cuff injury.  As a result, this could lead to pain, weakness, and difficulty lying on that side of the body. 

Can I Prevent a Tear?

Although there is no guarantee, maintaining shoulder strength can help reduce your risk of developing a rotator cuff injury.  Most people tend to ignore the muscles on the back of the shoulder when working out. Similarly, they forget about keeping the muscles that attach to the shoulder blade healthy.  Working with a physical therapist can help restore normal range of motion and strength.

When Should I See My Doctor?

If a rotator cuff injury goes untreated long enough, several complications can happen.  The tear can get larger or retract (pull back away from the bone) with time.  Without use of the shoulder due to pain, many people develop what is called a frozen shoulder. This is a condition in which the covering of the joint becomes tight, and motion in the shoulder is restricted.  The risk and rate at which the joint develops arthritis also increases with an untreated rotator cuff injury due to excessive wear of the cartilage.

Dr. Michael Azzam

Dr. Michael Azzam

Orthopedic Surgeon at KCBJ

“Rotator cuff injuries are one of the most common shoulder issues that I see.  There is a spectrum of injury from irritation of the tendons to full or partial thickness tears, to arthritis from chronically torn tendons.  I try to individualize treatment for each patient depending on their exam and imaging studies, work or recreational activities, and response to both non-surgical and surgical treatment options.”

If you have pain with use, weakness in the arm, or difficulty resting on your side, it might be a good idea to come in for an evaluation.  Call the office at 913-381-5225, or log into your Patient Portal to schedule a visit today!