When Your Rotator Cuff Causes You Pain

December 2, 2019
Woman holds onto shoulder, due to shoulder pain.

Experiencing a rotator cuff injury can be painful—and frustrating. Rotator cuff injuries can limit your activity and your range of motion. They can also cause significant pain that interferes with sleep. 

If you experience shoulder pain after a traumatic event, or if your pain starts to interfere with your daily activities, that’s when you should visit an orthopedic surgeon.

Dr. Mark Lorenze, Middlesex Health orthopedic surgeon and chief of surgery, describes the rotator cuff as an important group of muscles and tendons that help control the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff, located at the top of the shoulder, helps with control when you reach with your arm. It also helps to stabilize the shoulder and with overhead activities.

Injuries to the rotator cuff can occur when you fall on an outstretched arm, or when you lift something too heavy. Your rotator cuff can also be injured if your shoulder is dislocated. In addition, normal wear and the normal aging process can cause rotator cuff tears.

Dr. Mark Lorenze stands in the orthopedic operating suite at Middlesex Health.

According to Dr. Lorenze, treatment for rotator cuff injuries vary depending on the severity of the tear. To determine the extent of your rotator cuff injury, an orthopedic surgeon may order an MRI, which will provide a clear, detailed image of your shoulder.

Sometimes, Dr. Lorenze says a combination of anti-inflammatory medications, rest, physical therapy and the use of cortisone injections solves the problem. Other times, surgery might be needed. Surgery is often recommended when someone has a more severe injury, or when they do not respond to conservative treatment, he says.

To learn more about shoulder surgery and care at Middlesex Health, visit MiddlesexHealth.org/shoulder or watch Dr. Lorenze's interview on WTNH.


Featured Provider

Mark D. Lorenze, MD

Mark D. Lorenze, MD


  • Orthopedic Surgery


  • Madison, CT
  • Essex, CT

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