The Shoulder: Rotator Cuff Injury

Guest, Fitness, Guest,

   Today, we invite an orthopedic surgeon to talk about rotator cuff injuries, a common problem that affects the shoulder. Dr. Mauricio Raffaeli, has an office in the Pinheiros neighborhood of São Paulo (SP) and is an associate instructor for shoulder and elbow surgery at the Instituto NAEON in São Paulo.

The Rotator Cuff is the set of 4 tendons and muscles located in the shoulder, next to the shoulder bone. It is partly responsible for keeping the shoulder in place—the ligaments help as well—and allows our great range of shoulder movements.

Causes of Rotator Cuff Injuries

   Injury to the cuff can be caused by a number of factors, including: trauma, repetitive movements, compression by the adjacent bone, and fragility due to age.


   The symptoms of this disease are usually related to specific movements, depending on which cuff tendon is affected. Pain typically occurs in the shoulder and side of the arm and may reach the elbow. Loss of strength in certain movements and pain at night are also characteristic of rotator cuff problems.

The Rotator Cuff
The Rotator Cuff


   The diagnosis of this lesion is made by means of a good medical history and examination, which is specific for each affected tendon. The diagnosis can be confirmed by performing an ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the shoulder. These tests confirm which tendon is involved and the severity of the injury. They also show whether the injury affects part or all of the tendon, the size of this injury, how many tendons are affected, and the overall quality of the tendons.


   The treatment of this disease includes the use of medications and shoulder injections (performed by the specialist) to relieve the pain. It also requires physical therapy, especially in partial cuff injuries, to improve the symptoms and recover the shoulder function. When the patient has a significant involvement of a tendon, surgery is indicated to repair the injury, performed by arthroscopy (small cuts and use of a camera to perform the surgery) or by larger cuts, visualizing the diseased tendons.

In extreme and severe cases, the placement of a prosthesis in the shoulder (replacement of the joint by an artificial joint) may be indicated. In the case of surgical procedures, the patient should be in good overall health to help ensure a good outcome.

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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