The Science Behind Rotator Cuff Injury

Your rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround your shoulder joint. These muscles help keep your upper arm bone in your shoulder socket, but such an important job comes with a lot of responsibility.

You use your rotator cuff when you put away the dishes, swing a baseball bat or tennis racket, or even putting on a jacket – so it should be no surprise that rotator cuff injury is the most common cause of shoulder pain.

What happens if you injure your rotator cuff? How would you even know if you do? Here’s what you need to know about rotator cuff injuries.

Rotator Cuff Injury: Causes

Rotator cuff injuries vary in severity, from minor degeneration (which causes a dull, aching sensation) to tears (which can be much more painful). There is no one specific cause behind rotator cuff injury, but there are a few facts that can increase your risk. These include:

Age: Your rotator cuff degenerates naturally over time, and people over 60 are most at risk of being injured.

Occupation: Landscapers, construction workers, or anyone with a job that requires repetitive arm motions (particularly overhead) will lead to faster and greater damage to the rotator cuff.

Family history: Like many physical conditions, your genetic makeup does play a role in how durable your rotator cuff will be. Rotator cuff injuries tend to occur more often among certain families.

Lifestyle: You might have a greater risk of rotator cuff injury if you engage in certain lifestyle behaviors. For example, individuals who are particularly active (especially with sports like tennis or baseball) or even people who sleep on the same side every night put greater strain on their rotator cuffs and can suffer injuries more easily.


rotator cuff injury
Those who play tennis may be prone to rotator cuff injury


Every day, your body gives you little signs that help you effectively care for it. When you need to eat, you feel hungry. When you hurt yourself, you feel the pain. But how do you know when a pain in your shoulder is something more serious, like a rotator cuff injury?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common symptoms associated with rotor cuff injuries include:

  • A dull ache in the shoulder, severe enough to disturb sleep
  • Difficulty reaching behind you (for example, while combing your hair)
  • Weakness in the arm

These symptoms are clear signs that your doctor should evaluate your shoulder and check for rotator cuff damage.

Rotator Cuff Injury Treatments

Once your doctor has confirmed your rotator cuff injury, it’s time to start thinking about treatment. While surgery to repair or replace the tendons is available for the most severe cases, most people will be able to recover from their injuries with a simple regimen of ice, rest, and physical therapy.

A physical therapist or chiropractor can guide you through exercises that will strengthen your shoulder muscles and help you restore flexibility. Before long, you’ll be using your shoulders without pain once again! Look to Everett Spine & Rehab for a complete one-stop shop for all things rehab regarding injury. We not only have physical therapists on deck, but chiropractors as well. You’ll feel assured that your health is in good hands–call us at 425-347-8614 to schedule your appointment or stop by our Everett chiropractic and physical therapy office. Walk-ins are welcome!

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