The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that cover the head of the humerus and hold it securely inside the shoulder socket. The cuff helps maintain joint stability while allowing the arm to lift and rotate. A tear of the rotator cuff can be painful and can interfere with shoulder movement. Four muscles make up the cuff: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis muscles.
Rotator cuff tears can be caused by traumatic injury, such as a dislocation of shoulder. But they are most commonly caused by repetitive motions, especially from sports such as baseball or tennis.
Symptoms include pain and weakness when lifting or lowering the am, atrophy of the shoulder muscles, and a crackling sensation when the shoulder is moved.
Treatment options may include rest, anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, strengthening exercises and use of a sling. If those methods do not relieve the symptoms, surgery may be needed to repair the tear.