A rotator cuff tear is a common source of shoulder pain. This is damage to the tendon attaching the muscle to the shoulder, frequently the supraspinatus tendon.
What is a rotator cuff? The rotator cuff describes a group of four muscles which surround the ball of the shoulder joint. Beneath them is a bursa (sac) which allows the muscles to glide freely when moved. These muscles stabilize the shoulder joint, allow rotation, as well as, elevation of the arm.
Tears are commonly caused by wear and tear of aging. They may become frayed as the tendon rubs across a small bone spur, which is a degenerative condition. The tendon may have a partial or complete tear. A torn rotator cuff may be caused by trauma from an accident. Many times accidents aggravate a previously degenerated tear which had not yet been damaged sufficiently to cause symptoms such as a pain or weakness until the accident occurred. A rotator cuff injury may cause pain, restricted range of motion and weakness.