As one of the most movable and flexible joints in the body, the shoulder is also one of the most potentially unstable joints. It can be easily injured during sports-related activities and manual labor. However, the primary source of shoulder problems is the natural age-related degeneration of its surrounding soft tissues, such as those found in the rotator cuff.
The rotator cuff is made up of muscles and tendons in your shoulder which cover the head of your upper arm bone (humerus). This “cuff” holds the humerus in the shoulder socket. Rotator cuff tears come in all shapes and sizes, most commonly occurring in the tendon. Partial tears do not completely sever the soft tissue, while full thickness tears split the soft tissue into two pieces.
There are two primary causes of rotator cuff tears: injury and overuse.
• Injury. If you fall on your outstretched arm or lift something too heavy with a jerking motion, you could tear your rotator cuff. Rotator cuff tears in younger people are usually caused by an accident, such as a fall. This type of tear often occurs in conjunction with other shoulder injuries, such as a broken collarbone or dislocated shoulder.
• Overuse. Most tears, however, are a natural result of the wearing down of the tendon that occurs slowly over time. This happens as we age, but can be worsened by overuse – repeating the same shoulder motions again and again.
For these reasons, rotator cuff tears are most common in people over 40 who participate in activities involving repetitive overhead motions. Athletes, such as baseball pitchers and tennis players, are particularly vulnerable to overuse tears. Painters, carpenters and others who do overhead work also have a greater chance of developing a rotator cuff tear.
If you suffer from weakness or pain when lifting or rotating your arm that won’t go away, call the Florida orthopaedic experts at Fort Lauderdale Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine for a personal consultation. Our treatments can prevent your symptoms from getting worse and get you back to your normal routine. We can be reached at (954) 400-5544.