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Injuries That Can Affect Your Rotator Cuff

What is the Rotator Cuff?

A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint, supporting the upper arm bone within the shoulder. Injuries to this group of muscles can start as a dull ache and can increase in pain over time if not treated. But how do these injuries occur?


Rotator cuff injuries most often occur through repeated overhead motions such as practices through sports and jobs. The risk of a rotator cuff injury can increase in age, and physical therapy can help to improve flexibility and strength in the tendons. Strains, or injuries to the muscle-tendons, are classified by the amount of damage to the fibers. Grade I involves the stretching of the tendons and muscles without damage. Grade II involves a partial tearing of the muscle or tendon, and Grade III involved the complete tear of a muscle or tendon.

Acute Rotator Cuff Tear

This kind of injury develops from a sudden raising of the arm against some force of resistance. Heavy lifting, a fall on the shoulder, or a sudden movement of the shoulder, can cause an acute tear. These injuries require a significant amount of force to occur, and is typically harder to occur in those younger than thirty years old.

Chronic Rotator Cuff Tear

Chronic, severe rotator cuff tears typically occur through repetitive trauma. Certain occupations such as construction work, or sports requiring excessive overhead activity, such as baseball or football, can potentially damage the rotator cuff into a complete Grade III strain. Bone spurs, for instance, can also cause impingement on the muscles and tendons in the shoulder, causing inflammation and pain. Chronic injuries, however, can lead to degenerative changes to the structure of the muscles themselves.


Usually occurring with age, tendinitis is inflammation and irritation of the tendons, which develops from a particular movement overtime. If the rotator cuff has poor blood supply and a mild injury, tendinitis can develop, and this make the injury a lot harder to heal from. Calcific tendinitis refers to when calcium deposits develop within the tendon itself, creating chronic inflammation and poor blood supply.

Glenohumeral subluxation

Glenohumeral subluxation, or a partial dislocation of the shoulder, can lead to a rotator cuff injury. Dislocation of the shoulder joint can potentially damage the major ligaments that help to stabilize the shoulder, and the muscles that move the ligaments and bones can become inflamed and painful if the injury is severe enough.

Have a rotator cuff injury and need help? Space Coast Orthopedics offers physical therapy for joints and sports injuries that aim at retraining the muscles and ligaments back to functioning health. As a leading orthopedic practice in the Merritt Island, FL area, Dr. Luc Teurlings and his team of physicians work hard to care about your health, and focus on some of the top end therapy exercises that are proven to work with your body. If you’re interested in the ways in which we heal your joints, call us today and schedule an appointment.

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