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Rotator Cuff Tear vs. Shoulder Tendonitis

One of the most common reasons to visit the doctor is pain. Pain can appear anywhere but one of the common locations for patients to experience pain is in the shoulder. It is important for everyone to understand the problems that shoulder pain can cause, the possible reasons why shoulder pain might exist, and how a trained orthopedic surgeon can help. Two possible causes of shoulder pain are rotator cuff tears and tendonitis. What are some of the differences between them?


Shoulder Pain Can Lead To Significant Problems

Shoulder pain is among the most common reasons why someone might visit the doctor. Over the course of a lifetime, one study showed that about 70% of people are going to suffer from significant shoulder pain at one point or another. Furthermore, information published by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons indicates that about 2 million people visit the doctor per year for shoulder pain.

There are numerous ways that shoulder pain my present itself. Some people suffer from acute, burning pain in the shoulder. Other people might simply feel like their shoulder has gotten weak. Regardless, it is vital to seek medical care as quickly as possible, as his injury might get worse over time.


What Is the Rotator Cuff?

One possible reason why someone might be suffering from shoulder pain has to do with a rotator cuff injury. The rotator cuff is a set of four muscles that cover the top of the humerus, which is the upper bone of the arm. The head of the humerus is supposed to fit into the glenoid joint of the shoulder. The four muscles of the rotator cuff support this joint and make sure that it functions as it is supposed to. Some of the responsibilities of the rotator cuff include:

  • Stabilize the shoulder joint
  • Rotate the shoulder
  • Elevate the arm
  • Lift the shoulder

If someone suffers from a rotator cuff injury, this can lead to significant quality-of-life issues that should be addressed as quickly as possible. The first step in treating a shoulder injury is to diagnose the exact cause.


Is It a Rotator Cuff Tear or Tendonitis? How To Diagnose the Injury

Even though imaging scans can help a doctor make a diagnosis and plan the appropriate treatment course, the first step is always to take a history of the symptoms. If someone suffers from a rotator cuff tear, some of the symptoms include:

  • Pain is severe even when the shoulder is not being used
  • Pain in the shoulder can keep people awake at night
  • There might be a cracking or popping sensation when the shoulder moves in certain directions
  • Patients feel like there is an extreme weakness when trying to lift the shoulder or the arm

One common maneuver that the doctor might try is to ask someone to invert the hand and lift an object with the arm extended. If there is a rotator cuff injury, this motion is going to be impossible.

On the other hand, if someone suffers from tendonitis, the symptoms are generally going to be a bit milder. Some of the most common symptoms of shoulder tendonitis include:

  • There will be an audible clicking when using the shoulder
  • Pain tends to get worse when someone reaches for an object
  • The arm might feel a bit stiff, leading to a reduced range of motion

Unlike a rotator cuff injury, patients might still feel like they can push through the pain. Even though this might be possible, it is always better to seek medical care as quickly as possible. The sooner this injury is properly diagnosed, the faster it can be treated. That way, patients and get on the road to recovery. That is where we can help you.


Contact Prime Surgical Suites Today for All Shoulder Pain Needs

If you are suffering from shoulder pain, then you need to rely on the help of trained medical professionals who will tailor the treatment course to meet your exact needs. At Prime Surgical Suites, we do exactly that. We understand that no two cases are alike. Our physicians and surgeons have an unparalleled level of experience that we can leverage to help you. With safe, convenient, and predictable results, we can help you recover as comprehensively and as quickly as possible. Even though we have skilled surgeons, we never recommend surgery unless it is absolutely necessary. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with your shoulder pain.


At Prime Surgical Suites, we provide state-of-the-art, cost-effective musculoskeletal surgical care in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting for patients of all ages. Located in RiverCrest Medical Park, we are the region's first outpatient center focused exclusively on orthopedics. Our physician-led center will help restore your active lifestyle and well-being with compassion and orthopedic excellence.

Tags: Shoulder