Why Are Rotator Cuff Injuries Common?

Do you have a rotator cuff injury? You’re not alone. In fact, approximately 50% of people age 60 and older end up with a rotator cuff tear. This area of your body is highly susceptible to injury, but why?

At Orthopaedic Care Specialists in North Palm Beach, Florida, Thomas F. Saylor, MD, specializes in upper extremity orthopedic surgery, including rotator cuff tears. In this blog, he explains why the rotator cuff is prone to injury and who's most at risk.

How the rotator cuff works

Your rotator cuff is a group of tendons that form a sleeve around your shoulder joint. Their job is to hold the round head of your upper arm bone in your shoulder socket. 

This complex shoulder structure gives your arm extensive mobility. In fact, the shoulder joint offers more range of motion than any other joint in your body. However, this design also leaves it vulnerable to damage. That’s because your rotator cuff tendons have to move in a very tight space. It can also cause them to rub against the ligament in front of the shoulder or the bony knob directly above them, creating friction.

As a result, many rotator cuff injuries develop because of repetitive motion or degeneration of the tendons from wear and tear.

Repetitive motion and your rotator cuff

When you have friction — or impingement syndrome — in your rotator cuff, it’s usually due to rough or repetitive movement. Unfortunately, friction can trigger inflammation in the area, which can cause deterioration or injury. 

Common causes of impingement syndrome include:

Over time, this inflammation can lead to three common rotator cuff injuries: tendonitis, bursitis, and rotator cuff tears.

Signs of a rotator cuff injury

You can usually expect to have pain in your shoulder and upper arm when you have a rotator cuff injury. Your symptoms will most likely worsen when you lift and turn your arm, too, because this movement can make tendons in your shoulder rub against other structures in the area.

Other signs of a rotator cuff injury can include:

It’s also possible to have a rotator cuff injury without obvious symptoms, so it’s important to know your risks, so you can identify any issues before damage worsens.

Risk factors for suffering a rotator cuff injury

While anyone can develop a rotator cuff injury, certain factors can increase your chances of developing tendon issues in your shoulder, including:

If you have a rotator cuff injury and want treatment, or if you want to see if you have a rotator cuff injury, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Orthopaedic Care Specialists today.

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