Medscape is available in 5 Language Editions – Choose your Edition here.


Rotator Cuff Injury

  • Author: Gerard A Malanga, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
Updated: Mar 25, 2015


Rotator cuff injuries are a common cause of shoulder pain in people of all age groups. They represent a spectrum of disease, ranging from acute reversible tendinitis to massive tears involving the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and subscapularis. Diagnosis is usually made through detailed history, physical examination, and often, imaging studies.[1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

A normal rotator cuff and rotator cuff tear are shown below.

Rotator cuff, normal anatomy. Rotator cuff, normal anatomy.
Rotator cuff tear, anterior view. Rotator cuff tear, anterior view.

Often, younger individuals with rotator cuff injuries relate a history of repetitive overhead activities involving the rotator cuff or, less commonly, a history of trauma preceding clinical onset of symptoms. In contrast, older individuals usually present with a gradual onset of shoulder pain and, ultimately, after radiographic testing is shown to have significant partial or full rotator cuff tears without a clear history of predisposing trauma. Nonoperative or conservative treatment is usually sufficient to heal the problem in the vast majority of individuals, with a few exceptions that are discussed.[1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

For excellent patient education resources, see eMedicineHealth's patient education articles Rotator Cuff Injury and Shoulder and Neck Pain.




United States

The frequency of full-thickness rotator cuff tears ranges from 5-40%, with an increasing incidence of cuff pathology in advanced age. Cadaveric studies by Bigliani et al found that 39% of individuals older than 60 years had full-thickness rotator cuff tears with an even higher incidence of partial tears.[6]


Functional Anatomy

Normal shoulder motion

The shoulder complex is comprised of several joints, including the sternoclavicular joint, acromioclavicular joint, glenohumeral (GH) joint, and scapulothoracic (ST) joint or pseudoarticulation. These articulations work together to carry out normal shoulder motion. The majority of motion occurs at the GH and ST joints. A rhythm between these 2 areas of motion has been described.[1, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]

The GH–to–ST motion ratio of total shoulder motion is 2:1 (ie, 180° of abduction, consisting of 120° of GH motion and 60° of ST motion). The 2:1 ratio is an average over the entire arc of motion. This ratio changes through the arc of motion (ie, the 2:1 ratio is not constant throughout the entire range of motion [ROM]). In the initial portion of abduction, GH motion predominates and the ratio is 4:1 (GH:ST). As the shoulder moves above 90° of abduction, this ratio becomes 1:1° GH to 1° ST motion.

The importance of the scapula in normal shoulder motion cannot be overstated. The scapula, with the glenoid as its contact point, forms the platform for humeral head articulation and motion. A stable platform is essential for normal shoulder biomechanics in everyday activities and is crucial for high-demand activities (eg, overhead sports or work).[13]

The scapula must glide along the chest wall as it protracts and retracts during normal shoulder movements. Scapular winging results in glenoid antetilting, which results in functional elevation of the humeral head and impingement of the rotator cuff. In addition, without scapular motion, the origin and insertion of the deltoid approximate each other, resulting in a decreased optimal length-tension relationship and a decrease in force as the shoulder abducts. Normal scapular motion allows the deltoid to maintain its length-tension relationship and generate adequate force.

Stabilizers of the shoulder

The shoulder is considered a ball-in-socket joint, although the glenoid fossa is flat. In addition, the surface area of the glenoid is much smaller than that of the contacting humeral head (25-30%). The cartilaginous labrum provides much of the socket function and increases the surface area of contact for the humeral head.

Together, these components provide a great amount of shoulder mobility with limited stability. Shoulder stabilizers can be grossly categorized as static or dynamic. Dynamic stabilizers require an intact neuromuscular system to function, whereas static stabilizers help maintain congruity.

The static stabilizers have been studied well in cadaver specimens to understand their stabilizing effects. Static stabilizers continue to function in the setting of neurologic or intrinsic muscle pathology in conditions such as hemiplegia, spinal cord injury, brachial plexus injury, suprascapular nerve injury, and myopathies. This is not true for the dynamic stabilizers (eg, rotator cuff muscles). With neuromuscular injury or intrinsic muscle damage, the dynamic stabilizers lose their ability to exert dynamic motor control of the humeral head, ultimately leading to GH laxity and shoulder pain.

Static stabilizers

Static stabilizers include the bony structures, labrum, GH ligaments, and joint capsule. Unlike the hip joint, the bony articulation of the shoulder offers little stability. This is due to the limited contact area of the glenoid with the humeral head, flattened architecture, and retroverted positioning. The labrum is a fibrous structure that attaches to the glenoid to increase the contact area and deepen the socket of the glenoid up to 50%, forming a concave surface. Three GH ligaments exist, as follows: superior, middle, and inferior. The inferior GH ligament is the most important for shoulder stability and has 3 components, anterior, inferior, and posterior, therefore, it is more appropriately referred to as the inferior GH complex.

Dynamic stabilizers

Dynamic stabilizers[14] include the rotator and scapular stabilizers (ie, teres major, rhomboids, serratus anterior, trapezius, levator scapula). The rotator cuff is composed of 4 muscles: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. The supraspinatus is the principal supporting and kinetic muscle of the shoulder. The primary function of the rotator cuff muscles is to stabilize the GH joint so that the larger shoulder movers (eg, deltoid, latissimus dorsi) can carry out their function without significant motion of the humeral head on the glenoid. Increased movement results in shearing forces across the joint (to the labrum, in particular) and may result in humeral head migration and impingement upon the rotator cuff muscles and tendons.

The rotator cuff muscles are associated and assist with some shoulder motion; however, their main function is to provide stability to the joint by compressing the humeral head on the glenoid. The supraspinatus assists in shoulder abduction by maintaining the humeral head centered on the glenoid, with the middle deltoid acting as the primary mover. These muscles act as force couples, because they work synergistically to carry out a particular movement.

Electromyography (EMG) studies have demonstrated a high degree of supraspinatus activity during the initial 30° of abduction. This has been misinterpreted to imply that the supraspinatus initiates shoulder abduction and acts to abduct the shoulder in the first 30°. In actuality, the supraspinatus fires to stabilize the GH joint as the deltoid abducts the arm.[15, 16, 17, 18, 19]

Increased EMG activity in the supraspinatus during the initial 30° is a reflection of increased firing requirements of this muscle to stabilize the GH joint as the deltoid is activated. The infraspinatus and teres minor muscles assist in external rotation of the shoulder and also provide an inferior pull upon the humeral head, assisting in its centering during overhead activity. The subscapularis muscle participates in this centering but also acts with the pectoralis muscles and latissimus dorsi as an internal rotator of the shoulder, serving as the main internal rotators of the shoulder.

Weakness or insufficiency of the rotator cuff muscles results in increasing demands on the static stabilizers. If these demands are long term or recurrent, static stabilizers may begin to fail. This can result in stretching or attenuation of the capsule, which results in even greater shoulder laxity and greater demands on the already weak rotator cuff muscles. Humeral head migration may occur with capsule laxity and result in rotator cuff impingement and pain. Pain may inhibit rotator cuff muscle firing, leading to disuse and further weakening of the dynamic stabilizers with greater demands placed on the static stabilizers.

Increased humeral head translation can also lead to shearing and injury to the glenoid labrum. Rotator cuff impingement, tendinitis, and labral pathology are commonly encountered injury patterns in athletes and workers who perform overhead motions. Focusing solely on the static stabilizers in treatment neglects the dynamic structures that probably initiate and perpetuate the cycle.


Sport-Specific Biomechanics

A similar type of motion is involved in a number of overhead sports activities (eg, serving in tennis, spiking in volleyball, throwing a football or baseball). The baseball throwing motion has been studied in detail and can be divided into 5 stages.

  • Stage 1 is the wind-up phase. EMG studies have determined that the rotator cuff muscles are inactive during this initial stage.
  • Stage 2 is the early cocking stage and involves shoulder external rotation and abduction supplied primarily by the deltoid.
  • Stage 3 is the late cocking stage, which continues until maximal external rotation is achieved. The rotator cuff muscles are very active during this stage, especially the subscapularis, which eccentrically contracts and acts as a dynamic stabilizer.
  • Stage 4 is the acceleration stage, which begins with internal rotation of the humerus and ends with release of the baseball. During this phase, the pectoralis major and the latissimus dorsi are very active, whereas the muscles of the rotator cuff are inactive.
  • Stage 5 is the follow-through of the baseball pitch, where deceleration takes place. During this phase, the rotator cuff muscles and the posterior deltoid are most active. The supraspinatus eccentrically contracts to decelerate internal rotation of the limb.

Proper balance between the concentrically contracting muscles that generate force and the eccentrically contracting muscles that control movement is important. Imbalance between these opposing muscle groups results in overuse of muscles and, ultimately, overuse injuries of the shoulder. Note that a great deal of the force generated in overhead sports occurs in the trunk and lower extremity, and these areas should be targeted in any conditioning program for athletes who throw.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Gerard A Malanga, MD Founder and Partner, New Jersey Sports Medicine, LLC and New Jersey Regenerative Institute; Director of Research, Atlantic Health; Clinical Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School; Fellow, American College of Sports Medicine

Gerard A Malanga, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, North American Spine Society, International Spine Intervention Society, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American College of Sports Medicine

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Cephalon for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Endo for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Genzyme for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Prostakan for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from Pfizer for speaking and teaching.


Jay E Bowen, DO Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

Jay E Bowen, DO is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Osteopathy, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Osteopathic College of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, North American Spine Society, Physiatric Association of Spine, Sports and Occupational Rehabilitation, American College of Sports Medicine, American Osteopathic Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Christopher J Visco, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; Assistant Residency Program Director, New York Presbyterian Hospital

Christopher J Visco, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Association, American Medical Student Association/Foundation, Association of Academic Physiatrists, International Spine Intervention Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Henry T Goitz, MD Academic Chair and Associate Director, Detroit Medical Center Sports Medicine Institute; Director, Education, Research, and Injury Prevention Center; Co-Director, Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship

Henry T Goitz, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Craig C Young, MD Professor, Departments of Orthopedic Surgery and Community and Family Medicine, Medical Director of Sports Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin

Craig C Young, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Andrew L Sherman, MD, MS Associate Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine, Vice Chairman, Chief of Spine and Musculoskeletal Services, Program Director, SCI Fellowship and PMR Residency Programs, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Miami, Leonard A Miller School of Medicine

Andrew L Sherman, MD, MS is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, American Medical Association, Association of Academic Physiatrists

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Stephen G Andrus, MD Sports Medicine Fellow, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

Stephen G Andrus, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Association, and Physiatric Association of Spine, Sports and Occupational Rehabilitation

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

  1. Codman EA. The Shoulder. Boston, Mass: Thomas Todd; 1934.

  2. Bierman W, Licht S. Physical Medicine in General Practice. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Harper & Row Publishers; 1952. 1377-80, 601.

  3. Neer CS 2nd, Welsh RP. The shoulder in sports. Orthop Clin North Am. 1977 Jul. 8(3):583-91. [Medline].

  4. Cailliet R. Shoulder Pain. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: FA Davis Publishers; 1991. 42-6.

  5. Baker CL, ed. Shoulder impingement and rotator cuff lesions. The Hughston Clinic Sports Medicine Book. Baltimore, Md: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 1995. 272-9.

  6. Bigliani LU, Morrison DS, April EW. The morphology of the acromion and its relationship to rotator cuff tears. Orthop Trans. 1986. 10:228.

  7. Inman VT, Saunders JB, Abbott LC. Observations of the function of the shoulder joint. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 26:1-30. [Full Text].

  8. Moseley HF. Disorders of the shoulder. Clin Symp. 1959 May-Jul. 11(3):75-102. [Medline].

  9. Saha AK. Dynamic stability of the glenohumeral joint. Acta Orthop Scand. 1971. 42(6):491-505. [Medline].

  10. Janda DH, Loubert P. Basic science and clinical application in the athlete's shoulder. A preventative program focusing on the glenohumeral joint. Clin Sports Med. 1991 Oct. 10(4):955-71. [Medline].

  11. Poppen NK, Walker PS. Normal and abnormal motion of the shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1976 Mar. 58(2):195-201. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  12. Steinbeck J, Liljenqvist U, Jerosch J. The anatomy of the glenohumeral ligamentous complex and its contribution to anterior shoulder stability. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 1998 Mar-Apr. 7(2):122-6. [Medline].

  13. Kibler WB. The role of the scapula in athletic shoulder function. Am J Sports Med. 1998 Mar-Apr. 26(2):325-37. [Medline].

  14. Wuelker N, Korell M, Thren K. Dynamic glenohumeral joint stability. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 1998 Jan-Feb. 7(1):43-52. [Medline].

  15. Steindler A. Kinesiology of Human Body Under Normal and Pathological Conditions. Springfield, Ill: Charles C Thomas Publishing; 1984.

  16. Jobe FW, Moynes DR, Tibone JE, Perry J. An EMG analysis of the shoulder in pitching. A second report. Am J Sports Med. 1984 May-Jun. 12(3):218-20. [Medline].

  17. Blackburn TA, White B, McLeod WD, Wofford L. EMG analysis of posterior rotator cuff exercises. Athl Training. 1990. 25:40-5.

  18. Nuber GW, Jobe FW, Perry J, Moynes DR, Antonelli D. Fine wire electromyography analysis of muscles of the shoulder during swimming. Am J Sports Med. 1986 Jan-Feb. 14(1):7-11. [Medline].

  19. Malanga GA, Jenp YN, Growney ES, An KN. EMG analysis of shoulder positioning in testing and strengthening the supraspinatus. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Jun. 28(6):661-4. [Medline].

  20. Jobe FW, Moynes DR. Delineation of diagnostic criteria and a rehabilitation program for rotator cuff injuries. Am J Sports Med. 1982 Nov-Dec. 10(6):336-9. [Medline].

  21. Malanga GA, Bowen JE, Nadler SF, Lee A. Nonoperative management of shoulder injuries. J Back Musculoskeletal Rehab. 1999. 12:179-89.

  22. Yamanaka K, Fukda H. Aging process of the supraspinatus tendon in surgical disorders of the shoulder. Watson N, ed. Surgical Disorders of the Shoulder. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 1991. 247.

  23. Rathbun JB, Macnab I. The microvascular pattern of the rotator cuff. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1970 Aug. 52(3):540-53. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  24. Lohr JF, Uhthoff HK. The microvascular pattern of the supraspinatus tendon. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1990 May. 254:35-8. [Medline].

  25. Edmonds EW, Eisner EA, Kruk PG, Roocroft JH, Dwek JD. Diagnostic Shortcomings of Magnetic Resonance Arthrography to Evaluate Partial Rotator Cuff Tears in Adolescents. J Pediatr Orthop. 2014 Jul 29. [Medline].

  26. Teefey SA, Hasan SA, Middleton WD, Patel M, Wright RW, Yamaguchi K. Ultrasonography of the rotator cuff. A comparison of ultrasonographic and arthroscopic findings in one hundred consecutive cases. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2000 Apr. 82(4):498-504. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  27. Kabat H. Proprioceptive facilitation in therapeutic exercise. Licht S, ed. Therapeutic Exercises. Baltimore, Md: Waverly Press; 1965. 327-43.

  28. Ninkovic S, Simnjanovski M, Harhaji V, Kovacev N, Janjic N, Obradovic M. Surgical treatment of shoulder rotator cuff injuries. Med Pregl. 2014 Jul-Aug. 67(7-8):239-45. [Medline].

  29. Namdari S, Voleti P, Baldwin K, Glaser D, Huffman GR. Latissimus dorsi tendon transfer for irreparable rotator cuff tears: a systematic review. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2012 May 16. 94(10):891-8. [Medline].

  30. Rodeo SA, Delos D, Williams RJ, Adler RS, Pearle A, Warren RF. The effect of platelet-rich fibrin matrix on rotator cuff tendon healing: a prospective, randomized clinical study. Am J Sports Med. 2012 Jun. 40(6):1234-41. [Medline].

  31. Kissenberth MJ, Rulewicz GJ, Hamilton SC, Bruch HE, Hawkins RJ. A positive tangent sign predicts the repairability of rotator cuff tears. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2014 Jul. 23(7):1023-7. [Medline].

  32. Deniz G, Kose O, Tugay A, Guler F, Turan A. Fatty degeneration and atrophy of the rotator cuff muscles after arthroscopic repair: does it improve, halt or deteriorate?. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2014 Jul. 134(7):985-90. [Medline].

  33. Park HB, Lin SK, Yokota A, McFarland EG. Return to play for rotator cuff injuries and superior labrum anterior posterior (SLAP) lesions. Clin Sports Med. 2004 Jul. 23(3):321-34, vii. [Medline].

  34. Safran O, Schroeder J, Bloom R, Weil Y, Milgrom C. Natural history of nonoperatively treated symptomatic rotator cuff tears in patients 60 years old or younger. Am J Sports Med. 2011 Apr. 39(4):710-4. [Medline].

  35. Arroyo JS, Hershon SJ, Bigliani LU. Special considerations in the athletic throwing shoulder. Orthop Clin North Am. 1997 Jan. 28(1):69-78. [Medline].

  36. Asami A, Sonohata M, Morisawa K. Bilateral suprascapular nerve entrapment syndrome associated with rotator cuff tear. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2000 Jan-Feb. 9(1):70-2. [Medline].

  37. Bandy WD, Irion JM. The effect of time on static stretch on the flexibility of the hamstring muscles. Phys Ther. 1994 Sep. 74(9):845-50; discussion 850-2. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  38. Blevins FT. Rotator cuff pathology in athletes. Sports Med. 1997 Sep. 24(3):205-20. [Medline].

  39. Borsa PA, Lephart SM, Kocher MS, Lephart SP. Functional assessment and rehabilitation of shoulder proprioception for glenohumeral instability. J Sports Rehabil. 1994. 3(1):84-104.

  40. Cho NS, Yi JW, Rhee YG. Arthroscopic biceps augmentation for avoiding undue tension in repair of massive rotator cuff tears. Arthroscopy. 2009 Feb. 25(2):183-91. [Medline].

  41. Clarnette RG, Miniaci A. Clinical exam of the shoulder. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 Apr. 30(4 suppl):S1-6. [Medline].

  42. Cohen RB, Williams GR Jr. Impingement syndrome and rotator cuff disease as repetitive motion disorders. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1998 Jun. 351:95-101. [Medline].

  43. DeLateur BI. Exercise for strength and endurance. Basma-jian JV, ed. Therapeutic Exercise. 4th ed. Baltimore, Md: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1984.

  44. Dixit R. Nonoperative management of shoulder injuries in sports. Phys Med Rehab Clin N Am. 1994. 5(1):69-80.

  45. Flatow EL, Soslowsky LJ, Ticker JB, et al. Excursion of the rotator cuff under the acromion. Patterns of subacromial contact. Am J Sports Med. 1994 Nov-Dec. 22(6):779-88. [Medline].

  46. Gerber C, Terrier F, Ganz R. The role of the coracoid process in the chronic impingement syndrome. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1985 Nov. 67(5):703-8. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  47. Halpern B, Herring SA, Altchek D, Herzog R. Imaging of the shoulder. Imaging in Musculoskelatal and Sports Medicine. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Science; 1997. 108-34.

  48. Harryman DT 2nd, Sidles JA, Clark JM, McQuade KJ, Gibb TD, Matsen FA 3rd. Translation of the humeral head on the glenoid with passive glenohumeral motion. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1990 Oct. 72(9):1334-43. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  49. Howell SM, Galinat BJ. The glenoid-labral socket. A constrained articular surface. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1989 Jun. 243:122-5. [Medline].

  50. Jobe FW, Bradley JP. The diagnosis and nonoperative treatment of shoulder injuries in athletes. Clin Sports Med. 1989 Jul. 8(3):419-38. [Medline].

  51. Mantone JK, Burkhead WZ Jr, Noonan J Jr. Nonoperative treatment of rotator cuff tears. Orthop Clin North Am. 2000 Apr. 31(2):295-311. [Medline].

  52. Marx RG, Koulouvaris P, Chu SK, Levy BA. Indications for surgery in clinical outcome studies of rotator cuff repair. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2009 Feb. 467(2):450-6. [Medline].

  53. Moorman CT, Deng X, Warren RF, Torzilli PA, Wickiewicz TL. The coracoacromial ligament: is it the appendix of the shoulder?. Paper presented at: The Forty-First Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society; February 13-16, 1995; Orlando, Fla.

  54. Neer CS 2nd. Anterior acromioplasty for the chronic impingement syndrome in the shoulder: a preliminary report. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1972 Jan. 54(1):41-50. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  55. Oh DK, Yoon YC, Kwon JW, et al. Comparison of indirect isotropic MR arthrography and conventional MR arthrography of labral lesions and rotator cuff tears: a prospective study. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2009 Feb. 192(2):473-9. [Medline].

  56. Ozaki J, Fujimoto S, Nakagawa Y, Masuhara K, Tamai S. Tears of the rotator cuff of the shoulder associated with pathological changes in the acromion. A study in cadavera. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1988 Sep. 70(8):1224-30. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  57. Tobis JS. Posthemiplegic shoulder pain. N Y State J Med. 1957 Apr 15. 57(8):1377-80. [Medline].

  58. Williams GR Jr, Rockwood CA Jr, Bigliani LU, Iannotti JP, Stanwood W. Rotator cuff tears: why do we repair them?. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2004 Dec. 86-A(12):2764-76. [Medline].

  59. Wright T, Yoon C, Schmit BP. Shoulder MRI refinements: differentiation of rotator cuff tear from artifacts and tendonosis, and reassessment of normal findings. Semin Ultrasound CT MR. 2001 Aug. 22(4):383-95. [Medline].

  60. Yamaguchi K, Tetro AM, Blam O, et al. Natural history of asymptomatic rotator cuff tears: a longitudinal analysis of asymptomatic tears detected sonographically. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2001 May-Jun. 10(3):199-203. [Medline].

Rotator cuff, normal anatomy.
Rotator cuff tear, anterior view.
The acromioclavicular arch and the subacromial bursa.
Neer impingement test. The patient's arm is maximally elevated through forward flexion by the examiner, causing a jamming of the greater tuberosity against the anteroinferior acromion. Pain elicited with this maneuver indicates a positive test result for impingement.
Hawkins test. The examiner forward flexes the arms to 90° and then forcibly internally rotates the shoulder. This movement pushes the supraspinatus tendon against the anterior surface of the coracoacromial ligament and coracoid process. Pain indicates a positive test result for supraspinatus tendonitis.
Rotator cuff injury.
All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2016 by WebMD LLC. This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.