Skip to content

Rotator Cuff Disorders

Font Size

Symptoms

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

Choking in Children

Unconscious Not able to breathe because something is blocking the airway or has caused it to close off Wheezing or gasping Not able to cry, talk, or make noise Turning blue in the face Grabbing at the throat Looking panicked

Read the Choking in Children 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.

1|2

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 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.
psoriasis
What it looks like.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
chest x-ray
7 early symptoms.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
Breast Cancer Overview
Symptoms and treatments.
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.