The rotator cuff is the group of muscles and tendons that support and give stability to the shoulder. When a tendon of the rotator cuff is torn, it can lead to pain and restricted movement of the arm. Rotator cuff tears most commonly occur from trauma or injury, but they can also be the result of gradual wear and tear from normal movement of the shoulder joint.
The most common causes of injury to the rotator cuff are through repetitive overhead movements or forceful pulling motions with the arm. Rotator cuff tears are very common in athletes in certain sports, such as baseball and softball pitchers, football quarterbacks, weightlifters, cheerleaders, volleyball players, swimmers, boxers, tennis players, kayakers, and martial artists. Certain musicians, such as drummers and orchestral conductors, are also susceptible to rotator cuff tears.
Rotator Cuff Tear
There are preventative measures that can be taken to avoid a rotator cuff tear. Using correct form when exercising and playing sports and performing repetitive motion activities is the first step in avoiding a rotator cuff tear. In addition, preventing an initial rotator cuff tear also decreases the likelihood of sustaining a second or third injury down the line.
Research of various shoulder movements and their likelihood to lead to a tear or overuse injury suggests that keeping the arm in a neutral position relieves tension on all ligaments and tendons. Proper stretching before vigorous activity can also help to stave off an injury to the tendons and ligaments of the shoulder joint. Lifestyle habits and changes can also help to prevent injury and maintain health and wellness. For example, a study of several hundred patients who had undergone shoulder reconstruction surgery found that the age of tobacco smokers at time of injury appeared to be lower than that of non-smokers.
Read more about Arthroscopic Shoulder Procedures.