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Common Causes of Rotator Cuff Pain

August 29th, 2018


The rotator cuff is the set of muscles and tendons that surrounds the shoulder joint. The cuff keeps the top of your upper arm bone firmly in your shoulder socket. Any injury to the rotator cuff can cause a persistent ache in the shoulder of the affected side. Rotator cuff injuries are very common for people who perform repeated motions of the shoulder, especially overhead, either for their work or for recreation.

Common Causes of Rotator Cuff Pain

There are a few potential causes of rotator cuff pain. These causes may include:

  • Repetitive Stress from consistently performing the same motions – especially overhead motions – can cause strain on the rotator cuff. Sports such as rowing, baseball, and tennis are common contributors to rotator cuff injuries.
  • Acute Rotator Cuff Tear, which may happen when one attempts to lift a heavy object with a jerking motion, or if one falls onto their outstretched arm. Acute tears can also result from injuries such as a dislocated shoulder or broken collarbone.
  • Degenerative Rotator Cuff Tear, which occur after the tendon surrounding the shoulder slowly degrades over time. Some degradation with age is normal.


Rotator cuff injury can be quite painful, some of the most noticeable symptoms include:

  • A dull shoulder ache;
  • Difficulty sleeping/laying on the shoulder;
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks such as brushing hair; and
  • Weakness of the arm.


If you believe you may be suffering from a rotator cuff injury, make an appointment with your health care provider to evaluate the injury. Your health care team will get you back on track to having healthy shoulders.

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