Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Rotator Cuff Disorders

Font Size


A rotator cuff disorder causes pain and weakness in your shoulder. It may be uncomfortable or impossible to do everyday activities, such as combing your hair, tucking in your shirt, or reaching above your head.

Most often, you will feel the pain on the side and front of your upper arm and shoulder. You may have pain during the night and have trouble sleeping on that side. Pain is almost always worse when you make overhead movements.

Recommended Related to First Aid

Understanding Sprains and Strains -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Sprains and strains, from twisted ankles to aching backs, are among the most common injuries. A sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments, the tough, fibrous bands of tissue that connect bones to one another at a joint. A strain is a stretching or tearing of muscle tissue, commonly called a pulled muscle. To diagnose a sprain or strain, your doctor will take a detailed medical history and do a physical exam of the affected area. Often, the history and exam are all that's needed. If your doctor...

Read the Understanding Sprains and Strains -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

Because of the pain, you may try not to use your arm. And that can cause even more weakness and stiffness in the shoulder.

The amount of pain usually depends on how much damage there is:

  • Minor damage. Pain most often occurs only when you are active and is usually relieved with rest.
  • Moderate damage. You will likely notice pain both during and after activity. Pain may also occur at night, especially when you lie on your shoulder.
  • Severe damage. You may have continuous pain.

Sometimes the pain isn't directly related to the amount of damage. For example, your rotator cuff may have minor damage, but strength and the loss of range of motion may be severe because it's too painful to move in certain ways. This is especially true if you normally make a lot of overhead movements.

Symptoms of rotator cuff tendinitis

In tendinitis (inflammation in the tendon), the pain usually starts gradually, over the side of the shoulder and the upper arm.

  • Your shoulder and arm aren't particularly weak but it hurts to use them.
  • The pain may spread down the outside of the upper arm, even to the elbow.
  • The pain may be worse at night and may keep you awake, especially if you lie on that side.
  • Lifting the arm to the side or to the front makes the pain worse.

Over time, the pain may get worse or you may have constant pain. In some cases, this is because you actually have one or more small tendon tears.

Some people also have tendinitis in other parts of the shoulder. And some people have neck pain from using other muscles to help move the shoulder.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 04, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
Remember your finger
Are You Getting More Forgetful?
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.