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Rotator Cuff Tendon Pain

Rotator cuff pain is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain seen by orthopedic surgeons.  Rotator cuff tendonitis and bursitis is the most common and is caused by an inflamed tendon (tendinitis). The pain quality ranges from dull, aching sensation to a sharp and stabbing pain that radiates down the upper arm which may be worse with reaching overhead or sleeping on the affected side. The degree of the pain does not always correlate with the severity of the injury and most presentations of the pain and symptoms are without an identifiable trauma ( fall, lifting, sports, etc. ).   Rotator cuff tears usually present with similar pain and may have deficits in strength particularly noticed with overhead activity.  

The rotator cuff complex consists of four muscles with tendons (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis) that originate on the shoulder blade and insert on the top for the humerus.  The main purpose of the rotator cuff is to position the humeral head ( ball ) on the glenoid ( socket ) and aid in lifting and rotating your arm. 

Most rotator cuff injuries are amenable to nonoperative treatment with a comobination of home exercises, physical therapy, prescription anti-inflammatories, and occassionally cortisone injections.  If nonoperative treatments fail to alleviate symptoms, minimally invasive outpatient shoulder arthroscopy is a treatment options

Pain in the shoulder and rotator cuff area may not be related to a compromised rotator cuff.  Dr. Schell provides a detailed assessment with a comprehensive history and physical examination and in office imaging to diagnosis and treat all shoulder conditions.

William Schell, MD

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