What Are the Symptoms of a Worn-Out Rotary Cuff?

A main symptom of a worn rotator cuff is pain while performing activities that involve raising the injured arm over the head, such as brushing the hair, reaching for things, or playing sports, reports Medline Plus. The pain is usually localized in the front of the shoulder but may spread down the arm, stopping short of the elbow. Other symptoms may be disturbed sleep due to shoulder pain and weakness in the arm.

Rotator cuffs are tendons and muscles that stabilize shoulders and allow movement, explains MedlinePlus. They become worn when shoulder movements or impingements cause the tendons to become inflamed. Causes of impingement leading to a worn rotator cuff include playing sports and working at jobs that either keep the arms still or require repeated overhead motions. Rotator cuff wear also results from age, poor posture or constantly sleeping on the same arm. Rotator cuff injuries are more prevalent in those over age 40, and some families may have genetic predispositions for rotator cuff problems, adds Mayo Clinic.

Initial tests to determine rotator cuff problems include a physical examination to reveal range of motion, according to MedlinePlus. The doctor may then take an X-ray to detect possible bones spurs and follow that with an ultrasound test and MRI imaging. To alleviate rotator cuff pain, doctors often recommend ice packs, oral pain medications, physical therapy and avoiding symptom-causing activities. In extreme cases, treatment may involve injections of corticosteroid medication, or surgery to remove fragments of bone or inflamed tissue.