Your rotator cuff is the covering of muscles and tendons that encase the shoulder joint, keeping the ball of the upper arm bone firmly in place within the ball and socket joint of the shoulder.
A rotator cuff injury will cause mild and intermittent to severe and ongoing pain and weakness in the muscles of the shoulder.
Rotator cuff pain or injury can make it uncomfortable or impossible to do everyday activities, like brushing your hair, reaching a high shelf or cupboard, or even tucking in your shirt.
Often patients seeking treatment for a rotator cuff injury will complain of worsening pain at night when they are trying to sleep, especially on the side with the injury.
You will feel the pain from this injury on the side and front of your upper arm and shoulder. The pain will almost always worsen if you try to move your arm above your head.
The pain will often cause sufferers to try not to use their arm as much as possible, which can actually worsen the problem and cause the muscles to become more weak and stiff, leading to “frozen shoulder.”
The degree of pain will be an indication of how severe the injury is (and the urgency of seeking treatment).
Minor damage will cause pain only when you are actively using the shoulder, during sports practice and competition for instance, and usually goes away when the shoulder is rested.
Moderate damage will cause pain both during and after physical activity involving the shoulder. You may notice more pain at night as well if you lie on the affected rotator cuff.
If you feel very acute pain and it is ongoing regardless of your level of activity, even when sitting motionless with no pressure on the upper arm or shoulder, you might have severe damage to your rotator cuff.
Try using the R.I.C.E treatment as soon as you notice having rotator cuff injury or pain: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These steps should relieve pain and reduce swelling.
Once the swelling has subsided and you experience less rotator cuff pain, you can do certain exercises at home to increase the range of motion and help your muscles heal.
However to avoid future injuries, or your current rotator cuff pain from worsening into a full blown case of “frozen shoulder,” call us to make an appointment with Dr. Bob right away to get the consultation of a trained physician on the extent and treatment of your rotator cuff pain.