What Are the Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury?

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The symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include pain in the shoulder at night and at rest, especially when lying on the affected shoulder, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Weakness or pain when rotating or lifting the arm is also a symptom.

A crackling sensation when moving the shoulder into particular positions is another symptom of injury to the rotator cuff, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Sudden tears to the rotator cuff from falls or injuries tend to cause intense pain possibly accompanied by immediate weakness or a snapping sensation in the upper part of the arm. Degenerative tears that occur over time and develop slowly cause weakness and pain, including pain that moves down the arm or pain when lifting the arm to the side. Pain may become progressively worse, and over-the-counter pain medicines, while useful at first, may no longer be effective.

Around half of all people with rotator cuff injuries recover without surgery, explains the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. For these people, a combination of rest, modification of activities, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and steroidal injections help alleviate symptoms. Symptoms that persist for longer than 12 months, large tears and tears that cause significant loss of function may require surgical repair.