Rotator cuff tears are common in the adult population of people over 40. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and their tendons, which act to hold the upper arm (humerus) to the socket of the shoulder (glenoid fossa). The rotator cuff also provides mobility and strength to the shoulder joint. Two sac-like structures, called bursae, allow smooth gliding between the bone, muscle, and tendon. They also cushion and protect the rotator-cuff structures from the upper part of the scapula (the acromion).
Pain occuring in the front of the shoulder that radiates down the side of your arm.
Gradual onset of pain is most common in the adult population. It is often caused by repetitive overhead activity or by wear and degeneration of the tendon. Activities involving reaching or lifting may bring about an onset of pain. At first the pain may be mild and relieved by over-the-counter medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
Over time the pain may become noticeable at rest or with no activity at all and be accompanied by stiffness and loss of motion. Simple tasks such as combing your hair or placing your arm behind your back may prove difficult and/or painful.
Trauma such as a lifting injury or fall can cause a tear in the rotator cuff that results in acute pain. When the tear occurs with an injury, there may be sudden acute pain, a snapping sensation and an immediate weakness of the arm.