The shoulder joints are unique in their structure, allowing for the wide range of motion in the arms, which is controlled by the rotator cuff. The upper arm bone, or humerus, is held inside the shallow socket of the scapula, or shoulder, by the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff. This group of tissues wraps around the humerus and connects it to the scapula, allowing the 180-degree swinging motion of the arm while keeping the joint stabilized. When these muscles or tendons are injured, it can cause shoulder pain and affect arm mobility. Here are five signs your rotator cuff may be injured and requires medical attention.

1. Reduced Range of Motion

When tendons and muscles are torn or stretched in the rotator cuff, you can experience limited motion in your arm and shoulder. Reaching behind your back or lifting your arm can be difficult.

2. Dull Ache in Shoulder

Rotator cuff injuries do not necessarily cause intense pain – often the discomfort is described more as a dull ache versus sharp pain.

3. Difficulty Sleeping

One of the most common complaints with rotator cuff tears or injuries is problems sleeping. Laying on the affected shoulder can cause pain that can radiate down into the arm and keep you awake.

4. Weakness or Stiffness in the Shoulder

Damage to the rotator cuff can cause weakness that is noticeable when you try to lift items, especially over your head. You may also notice that your shoulder is stiff, making it hard to lift or move your arm in certain directions.

5. Crackling and Popping Sounds

When there are tears or injuries to the rotator cuff, you may hear noises when moving your shoulder joint. The inflammation in the soft tissues can cause restrictions that result in popping, grinding or crackling sounds when moving the shoulder joint.

While some rotator cuff injuries can be mild and respond well to conservative treatments, if you continue to have symptoms, you may need medical care. Our team at Shoulders & Knees is here when you need advanced medical care for a rotator cuff injury. Call us today to schedule an appointment with Steven Struhl, MD.