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Published on July 07, 2022

Is Your Shoulder Pain a Sign of a Rotator Cuff Injury?

Is Your Shoulder Pain a Sign of a Rotator Cuff Injury?

According to Dax Varkey, MD, MPH, an orthopedic surgeon in Greensboro and member of the Cone Health Medical and Dental Staff, rotator cuff pain affecting shoulder muscles and tendons can happen to anyone.

While most patients with rotator cuff issues are forty or older with no specific risk factors, sudden traumatic injuries can cause painful tears, too.

“Most people with rotator cuff issues have no particular risk factors and do not recall a specific event that would have caused their injury,” shares Dr. Varkey. “When people complain of aching shoulder pain that disrupts their normal daily lives, it’s time to get checked out.”

Signs of a rotator cuff injury include persisting shoulder pain that disrupts sleep, weakness in an arm when lifting objects or even loss of range of motion or movement.

“Some people complain they feel weakness in an arm when trying to put away clothes,” he adds. “Others struggle to put up dishes on kitchen shelves.”

During an office visit, you can expect to share your medical history and get a physical exam as well as x-rays. Often, patients are treated with physical therapy, medications and injections. If a rotator cuff tear is suspected, an MRI scan can confirm the diagnosis and extent of injury. Tears may require surgery and a recovery period using a sling.

“Left untreated, rotator cuff tears can get to the point that they are no longer repairable,” concludes Dr. Varkey. “That’s why getting a timely evaluation and proper care is so important.”