Rotator Cuff Disease

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for rotator cuff disease?

Without treatment, the shoulder can permanently lose full function from rotator cuff disease. Minor rotator cuff injuries cause mild to moderate dysfunction. Severe rotator cuff injuries can cause complete dysfunction of the shoulder joint. Scarring around the shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) can lead to a marked restriction of the range of shoulder motion (frozen shoulder).

Extensive need for rehabilitation and physical therapy is the norm with significant rotator cuff disease. Some patients never recover full function of the shoulder joint.

Is it possible to prevent rotator cuff disease?

Rotator cuff disease can be prevented by avoiding injury to the tendons of the shoulder. Rotator cuff disease can also be prevented by strengthening the rotator cuff muscles with exercises designed for this purpose. Repetitive strains, especially arm movements over the head, should be limited.

REFERENCES:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Koopman, William, et al., eds. Clinical Primer of Rheumatology. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/1/2016

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