Rotator cuff injuries can be recognized by the presence of a sudden pain accompanied by a deep, dull aching pain or weakness within the shoulder, according to the Mayo Clinic. The pain may not be localized to the shoulder and can stream downwards into the arm, resulting in limited range of motion and difficulty in moving the shoulder.
The Mayo Clinic describes the rotator cuff as a series of muscles and tendons in the shoulder that surround the joint and keep the upper arm in place within the socket of the shoulder. Combined, the muscles and tendons form a cuff-like structure around the shoulder joint. According to WebMD, although the shoulder has a wide-ranging motion it is not a very strong joint. Impacts or too much stress on the joint can result in rotator cuff tears or swelling in the surrounding muscles and tendons. The injury is very common among athletes that use their shoulder in a repetitively motion. Baseball players, especially pitchers, swimmers, tennis players and football players frequently experience this injury.
Treatment varies depending on the severity of the injury. According to Sports Injury Clinic, ice and cold therapy are used to control swelling and inflammation. For chronic cases, alternating cold and heat is recommended. In most cases rest is required, and the use of a sling may be necessary to immobilize the joint to restrict movement. Anti-inflammatory medications may aid in the recovery process, and in some cases steroid injections may be used. For severe cases that don’t respond to initial treatment, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage, according to Sports Injury Clinic.