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Injury to the rotator cuff can be from an acute traumatic event or chronic overuse. It is not unusual for a patient to have indolent or even sudden pain due to an inflamed rotator cuff without a specific injury. The supraspinatus is the most common rotator cuff tendon to tear, as it is subject to impingement by the overlying bony acromion. In addition, the blood supply at its leading edge where tears are common is poor, which explains why tears occur in this location and typically do not heal well without surgery.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain when lifting the arm
  • Pain when lying on the affected shoulder
  • Weakness with overhead activities
  • Crepitus (popping) with shoulder rotation