Rotator Cuff Syndrome

The rotator cuff is the most common cause of shoulder pain, which you may feel when you move in certain ways, such as washing your hair or putting on a coat.

Rotator Cuff Syndrome Facts & Information

Typically, rotator cuff injuries are best known for sidelining baseball pitchers and other types of athletes that utilize a lot of shoulder movement. However, problems with the rotator cuff does not just affect athletes – in fact, it’s the most common cause of shoulder pain for adults. Though rotator cuff syndrome can be painful and debilitating, there are non-surgical treatments to relieve the pain.

How & Why Does Rotator Cuff Syndrome Develop?

There are four muscles and tendons in the shoulder. As a group, they are referred to as the rotator cuff which can become painful from many conditions, including:

  • Trauma from a fall or dislocation
  • Trauma from repetitive movement
  • Structural abnormalities in the shoulder
  • Wear and tear on the tendons as people age

Any of these conditions can cause the muscles or tendons of the rotator cuff to be strained, bruised, or torn. 


The symptoms related to rotator cuff syndrome can be very similar to other conditions of shoulder. The most common symptoms are:

  • Pain in the shoulder when the arm is raised over the head
  • Pain that radiates down to the elbow (if the pain goes past the elbow to the hand it’s usually not related to the shoulder)
  • Tenderness
  • Weakness
  • Reduced range of motion


Proper diagnosis starts with an experienced pain management doctor. The type of pain that you may have with rotator cuff syndrome can be similar to the symptoms of several types of disorders. Accurately determining the correct source of your pain is critical to successful treatment.

  • Begins with a thorough clinical evaluation
  • Including a complete medical history, analysis of your symptoms, and physical examination
  • Testing may include x-rays, MRI and/or CT scans, and electro-diagnosis (EMG)
  • These advanced diagnostic techniques definitively pinpoint the source of pain