Rotator Cuff Injury: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons that attach to muscles that control the movement of the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff itself stabilizes the joint. A rotator cuff injury may be due to a sudden (acute) event or from gradual damage that builds up over time.

Shoulder pain is the primary symptom of rotator cuff injury. The pain usually comes on gradually and may not appear until the day following an injury. The pain is often worse at night and when lying on the affected shoulder. Other associated symptoms can include a decreased range of motion of the shoulder joint and inability to lift the arm away from the body.

Cause of a rotator cuff injury

Trauma or damage to the rotator cuff causes a rotator cuff injury.

Other rotator cuff injury symptoms and signs

  • Crackling Sensation When Moving Your Shoulder
  • Difficulty Lifting or Rotating Your Arm
  • Joint Stiffness
  • Loss of Muscle
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Shoulder Pain


Medically speaking, the term "myalgia" refers to what type of pain? See Answer

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