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February 24, 2017

Rotator Cuff Injury Can Affect Lifestyle

Shoulder pain is not uncommon. It can be happen after certain exercises or repeated overhead motions due to a job.

Seek Treatments When Shoulder Pain Persists

Shoulder pain is not uncommon. It can be happen after certain exercises or repeated overhead motions due to a job.

“Sometimes it is a minor strain or tendonitis,” said Brett Young, MD, orthopedic surgeon with ThedaCare Orthopedic Care. “Lingering pain or weakness may signify a serious problem.”

If the pain persists, see a doctor. “A rotator cuff injury becomes serious when it starts affecting one’s lifestyle,” said Dr. Young. “A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder and often worsens when trying to sleep on the involved side.”

The rotator cuff is the group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of the upper arm firmly within the socket of the shoulder. Many people recover with physical therapy exercises geared toward improving strength and flexibility.

The risk of rotator cuff injury increases with age but is also prevalent in athletes, construction workers and those with a family history. Sometimes a rotator cuff tear may occur as a result of a single injury. “Seek an evaluation with a physician if the pain is not going away after one to two weeks, since a rotator cuff tear may require surgery,” said Dr. Young.

The pain associated with a rotator cuff injury can:

  • Be a dull ache deep in the shoulder or along the upper arm
  • Disturb sleep, particularly if you lie on the affected shoulder
  • Make it difficult to reach behind the back or comb hair
  • Be accompanied by arm weakness

Rest, ice and physical therapy can be the first step toward treatment. But if the injury is severe or involves a tear, then other treatment methods like injection or surgery are needed. “There are several different types of surgeries available for rotator cuff injuries, depending upon the severity of the damage that is present,” said Dr. Young. “Without treatment, a rotator cuff problem may lead to permanent stiffness or weakness and may result in progressive degeneration of the shoulder joint.”

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 34 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.  ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February 2016. For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.