Rotator Cuff Injury

The rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles in the shoulder, the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. An injury to this region includes any type of irritation, swelling, inflammation, or damage to the muscles or tendons.


  • Pain - usually on top and in front of the shoulder that worsens with any overhead activity or exercise
  • Weakness that becomes apparent with arm overhead and/or pushing movements
  • Popping or crackling sensation in the shoulder
  • Unable to sleep on shoulder
  • Hot and burning sensation around shoulder area
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Inclination to keep the shoulder inactive or muscular guarding

Common causes:

  • Bursitis - the fluid-filled sac between the shoulder joint and rotator cuff tendons can become inflamed, causing the humerus to ride up and pinch the cuff
  • Overuse - repetitive or excess stress can cause a tendon or muscle to bruise, strain or tear
  • Poor Posture - slouching the neck and shoulders forward condenses the space where the rotator cuff muscles reside. This can result in pinching a muscle or tendon under the shoulder bones, or overstretching a muscle creating increased vulnerability for a muscle strain or tear
  • Tendinitis - tendons become inflamed due to misuse, overuse, or overload
  • Lifting or pulling - too heavy or improper lifting or pulling can strain or tear the tendons or muscles

Risk Factor:

  • Age - rotator cuff tears are most common in people older than 40
  • Athletics or Construction Trades - those who regularly use repetitive shoulder motions, most notably overhead motions during activities such as lifting overhead, tennis, baseball, swimming, and volleyball.
  • Poor Posture
  • Weak shoulder/scapular muscles