A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround and support the shoulder joint. The cuff is responsible for all of the movements of the shoulder. The way the cuff is formed allows the shoulder to move in any direction. The shoulder has more range of motion than any other joint in the body. With that extensive range of motion, however, comes the increased risk of injury. Because of its location and its ability to move in almost any direction, makes it vulnerable to any number of injuries. Falling in the joint can dislocate the humerus from the socket. Overextending the shoulder in any direction can result in a tear or other type of damage to the muscles and tendons that hold the joint in place.
The most common injuries to the rotator cuff include torn and hyperextended muscles. Tears in the muscles and tendons that create the rotator cuff can occur when a patient overextends or tries to forcefully move or lift an object. Hyperextending or stretching the muscles of the shoulder is also a common problem. Moving the arm in an unnatural fashion when lifting or participating in a sport can result in a dislocation. Dislocations occur when the humeral head is forced out of its normal position and away from the small hollow where it normally rests. If the shoulder experiences a strong enough force to tear or damage the rotator cuff, there is also the possibility that the joint itself will be damaged enough to allow the bone to become dislocated.
The shoulder is one of the most used joints in the body. When it is injured, many will try to rush the healing process so they can resume their normal duties. This can will prolong the healing process and may cause additional injuries. In most cases, even if the damage is extensive, the shoulder joint can heal in four to six weeks. The doctor will normally put the arm in a sling to prevent the patient from using it or stretching it out during the healing process. If the patient follows the doctor's orders and keeps the joint stabilized, regular movement can resume in two to three weeks as long as there is no lifting or stressing the muscles of the rotator cuff.