Rotator cuff disease refers to any damage done to the rotator cuff. This can occur if the tendons are strained, inflamed, torn, or experiencing degeneration from aging. A person with rotator cuff problems can experience pain in the shoulder and may have limited arm movement. A significant tear can leave a person unable to hold up their arm. Repetitive movements that engage the shoulder and rotator cuff can increase a person's risk for developing rotator cuff disease. Athletes who play baseball or tennis can face a higher risk due to the demands of their sport. Overuse of the rotator cuff can lead to problems that increase gradually. While trauma can lead to a sudden onset of symptoms. Degeneration of the rotator cuff can be a consequence of aging, while inflammation can occur as a consequence of tendonitis, bursitis, or arthritis. Many people who experience a form of rotator cuff disease will be able to improve through rest, icing their shoulder area, and by performing exercises that strengthen the tendons and supporting shoulder muscles. A serious rotator cuff tear can require surgical treatment.
Doctors will check a patient for possible rotator cuff disease and determine if they experience pain during certain arm movements, or if there are limits in motion. If a person is unable to hold their arm away from their side, it can be an indication that a serious tear is affecting the rotator cuff.
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