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The rotator cuff holds the head of the long bone of the upper arm into the pit or groove of the shoulder. Rotator cuff syndrome is damage to the rotator cuff from any cause. This condition is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. Tearing and inflammation of the tendons of the shoulder muscles can occur in activities requiring the arm to be moved over the head repeatedly as in tennis, swimming, and repeatedly lifting heavy items over the head.
The rotator cuff is commonly injured by trauma, and is particularly common in persons who perform repetitive overhead motions that place stress on the rotator cuff. These motions are frequently associated with muscle fatigue. Chronic inflammation or injury can cause tearing of the rotator cuff. The risk factors are more common in people over 40 years of age who participate in sports, exercise or an activity that involves repetitive arm motion over the head.
The most common symptom of rotator cuff disease is shoulder pain. The pain is often noticed gradually and may be first noticed even a day after the actual event which may have caused the injury. The pain is usually located to the front and side of the shoulder and increases when the shoulder is moved away from the body. It is usually more intense at night and sometimes increases when lying on the affected shoulder. People with rotator cuff disease usually find it difficult to lift the arm away from the body fully.