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Rotator cuff injuries / tears

What are rotator cuff injuries/tears?

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. Its role is to keep the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) inside the shoulder socket (glenoid).

Rotator cuff injuries occur most commonly in people whose job requires them to perform repetitive movements with their arms above their heads, such as painters, carpenters and certain athletes.

If left untreated, rotator cuff injuries and tears may lead to a permanent loss of movement or weakness in the shoulder joint with arthritis.

What causes a rotator cuff injury?

Repetitive overhead movements or heavy lifting can damage or tear the rotator cuff tendon. The tendon can also tear through degenerative change as we age. Traumatic events such as a fall onto your shoulder, outstretched hand or a shoulder dislocation can cause injury to the rotator cuff. Certain factors are linked to an increased risk of rotator cuff including:

  • Construction jobs which require repetitive overhead arm motions that can damage the rotator cuff over time
  • Family history – genetic factors may predispose you to rotator cuff injuries
  • Sports such as basketball or tennis
  • Age – the risk of rotator cuff tears increases in people over the age of 40

Rotator cuff injury

Shoulder and elbow consultants

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