The rotator cuff is the socket in which the two bones of the shoulder sit and where the four muscles that come together to form the shoulder tendon to cover the head of the arm bone (humerus). A fluid filled sac, called the bursa, lies between the socket and the bone and helps provide lubrication needed to extend and rotate the shoulder.
Over time, the cartilage of the rotator cuff can become damaged due to small micro tears or trauma. The weakening and degeneration of this cartilage can lead to pain and instability of the shoulder. In more severe cases, the cartilage may tear completely causing the bones of the shoulder to rub together. Some Rotator Cuff Tears are brought on by the formation of bone spurs that rub against the joint and irritate the cartilage.
Athletes whose positions require repetitive throwing motions are susceptible to this injury as well as those whose jobs require repetitive motion of the shoulder.
Depending upon the severity and type of injury, the labrum may be partially or completely torn. If you suspect a labral tear, it is important to seek medical attention as this condition may worsen if left untreated.
Signs and symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Tear may include:
- Pain when raising the arms
- Pain in the shoulder
- “Catching” or “popping” of the shoulder joint
- Feeling of the joint “locking”
- Decreased range of motion
- Weakness in the affected arm