Shoulder Pain?

There are a lot of reasons for shoulder pain, but the most common reason can be due to the rotator cuff.  Rotator cuff tears are the most common injuries to the shoulder and are often times caused by wear and tear over time. Pain from a rotator cuff tear often occur during repetitive overhead activities and difficulty with reaching out from the body.  Due to inflammation and pain in the shoulder, it is often times difficult to sleep at night and there can be weakness in the shoulder with inability to do the activities we love to do.

What is the Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles in the shoulder that the tendons of those muscles insert around the shoulder to form a cuff around the shoulder.  The muscle in the front is called the subscapularis, the muscle on top is called the supraspinatus, the muscle toward the back is the infraspinatus and the one in the far back is called the teres minor.  The rotator cuff is responsible for initiating motion of the shoulder upward.  This is one of the main functions of the shoulder, but other muscles like the deltoid and the aid of the shoulder blade help with motion of the shoulder as well.  When a tear of the rotator cuff occurs, there can be significant weakness in the shoulder and most commonly associated with pain.  The most commonly torn tendon is the supraspinatus, which is the muscle on the top of the shoulder.

How does this happen?

Rotator cuff tears are often times caused by progressive wear and tear over time in the shoulder that leads to weakening of the tendons and ultimately tearing.  A tear can also occur from a direct injury to the shoulder and may be felt as a pop in the shoulder.  Some people can even have rotator cuff tears and not know it, as there is a large percent of people that have tears over the age of 50 but they may not be symptomatic.

What can be done?

If you have continued pain in your shoulder from a rotator cuff tear, this often presents as pain and trouble sleeping, with pain on the outside of the shoulder and pain with overhead activities.  The majority of rotator cuff tears can be treated with physical therapy which strengthens the muscles around the shoulder to compensate for the tear.  Sometimes injections can be performed as well.  If all of this fails, sometimes surgery is required to repair the tendon back to the humerus.  An example of a rotator cuff tear is seen in the following link: Rotator Cuff Tear.  Then the repair of the tendon is seen is this link: Rotator Cuff Repair.  This can all be done arthroscopically.

If you have further questions or concerns, please visit for more information, or contact us in Shelby Township or Rochester, MI to set up an appointment.