Your rotator cuff is a set of four tendons and muscles that are around the shoulder joint. They keep your humerus — which the upper arm bone — stable within the socket of your shoulder. If you suffer an injury to your shoulder cuff, you might notice a dull pain or ache in your shoulder that gets worse whenever you apply pressure to that area or attempt to use your arms.
Rotator cuff injuries are most prominent in people who perform repetitive motions such as athletes or those with manual labor jobs. Baseball players, tennis coaches, and carpenters are especially susceptible to this type of injury. It’s worth noting that the odds of getting a rotator cuff injury get greater as you age. Most people will recover from their injury through some physical therapy though. Here are eight signs that you might have a rotator cuff tear. If you notice any of them, call your doctor immediately.
1. X-ray results
If you decide to go to your doctor and report the shoulder pain, they’ll most likely suggest that you get an x-ray. Bear in mind that rotator cuffs don’t actually show up on x-ray results, but they can rule out other things that could cause the pain in your shoulder. These include arthritis as well as fractures. When you have something as vague as shoulder pain, it’s usually a process of elimination for doctors who are trying to give you a diagnosis.
If your doctor finds that you do have a bone fracture or arthritis, they will most likely still try to see if there’s a secondary cause for the pain. It’s possible that someone might have both arthritis and a rotator cuff tear at the same time. If you’ve had arthritis for years but notice significantly more severe pain in recent weeks, you might have a cuff that is unrelated to your underlying condition.