The rotator cuff is a group of four small muscles that surround the shoulder. They work as a unit to help stabilise the shoulder joint and help with shoulder joint movement.
They may be injured through wear and tear (from repetitive movements), improper lifting of a load or a fall. Injuries range in severity from tendon strains to partial and complete tears.
The main symptoms are an acute onset of pain and painful movement of the shoulder, worse with overheadactivities.
If a tear is present, there may also be weakness. The symptoms may be severe enough to affect sleep and daily activities such as dressing or bathing.
Rotator cuff tendinopathy is caused by irritation and inflammation of the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles. Often, it is of an acute onset with a preceding injury.
Sometimes, it occurs due to overuse of the shoulder, especially in athletes who participate in throwing sports. In non-athletes, there may be a history of recent heavy lifting.
The diagnosis is often obtained through a thorough history and physical examination.
Investigations such as x-rays, ultrasound scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computed tomography (CT) scans may be done to assess its severity and/or exclude injuries to the surrounding structures. This will also help with selecting the appropriate course of treatment.