People with injured rotator cuff symptoms should seek medical attention if the pain is intense, according to Mayo Clinic. They should also check with a doctor if the pain does not lessen within a few days. Without treatment, shoulder damage sometimes increases, warns the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Symptoms of rotator cuff injury include a dull shoulder ache, inability to sleep on the shoulder, arm weakness and difficulty reaching up or back, Mayo Clinic says. The shoulder also makes a grating or popping sound when moved, states AAOS.
A physician investigating a possible rotator cuff injury does a physical examination, repositioning the shoulder and arm and assessing their strength, Mayo Clinic explains. Because a rotary cuff injury affects soft tissue it is not seen on an x-ray, but doctors sometimes order the test to rule out other causes, such as bone spurs or breaks. Ultrasound and MRI imaging are able to reveal tears in soft tissue, so they are also useful when diagnosing rotator cuff injury.
Treatment often begins with resting the affecting area and limiting its activities, advises AAOS. Pain and swelling are treated with ibuprofen or naproxen, although steroid injections are used if the pain is severe. Physical therapy helps the area recover strength and range-of-motion. If the injury does not respond to treatment, surgery is sometimes suggested.