Why Your Rotator Cuff Hurts (And What to Do About It)

Rotator Cuff Pain

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround and stabilize the shoulder joint. Because your rotator cuffs are so mobile and used so often in everyday life, they can easily suffer from painful conditions and injuries.
Below, we outline some of the most common rotator cuff injuries and the steps you can take if you’re experiencing rotator cuff pain.


Shoulder tendonitis is one of the most common causes of rotator cuff pain. Tendonitis happens when the tendons, the tissues that connect muscles to bones, become inflamed. This is caused by performing repetitive actions without rest and is common among many athletes. Because of this, the condition is often referred to as Tennis Shoulder, Pitcher’s Shoulder, or Swimmer’s Shoulder.  Below are some common symptoms you may be experiencing if you have tendonitis.

  • Dull, aching pain and stiffness from the front of the shoulder to the upper arm
  • Shoulder and arm pain when stretching or reaching
  • Shoulder clicking accompanied by pain when raising the arm
  • Loss of strength and mobility in the arm


Although tendonitis and bursitis are similar injuries caused by overuse, the tissues involved in each condition are different. While tendonitis involves inflamed tendons, bursitis is the result of an inflamed bursa, the small fluid-filled sac located in the shoulder that helps reduce friction. The most noticeable symptoms of bursitis are below.

  • Pain localized around the middle of the shoulder
  • Pain when the shoulder is touched, raised, or when pressure is added
  • Reduced range of motion in the affected shoulder
  • Swelling, tenderness, and redness around the shoulder
  • Shoulder pain that may get worse at night

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a condition that causes pain and restricts shoulder movement. You’re more likely to develop frozen shoulder if your shoulder has been immobilized for a long period of time, especially when recovering from another injury. Unfortunately, this condition can last for several months to years. Unlike most other rotator cuff conditions, symptoms of frozen shoulder begin gradually over a long period of time and develop in three stages.

3 Stages of Frozen Shoulder      

  • Freezing: Pain starts to occur around the shoulder joint. The pain increases gradually over time and may get worse at night. The affected shoulder’s range of motion is gradually reduced while stiffness in the shoulder increases. This stage can last from 6 to 9 months.
  • Frozen: During the “Frozen” stage, the shoulder will remain stiff. The pain may start to decrease, but shoulder movement is most restricted at this stage. This stage is the shortest and typically lasts 4 to 6 months.
  • Thawing: Range of motion begins to reappear slowly. Pain starts to fade. Thawing typically lasts 6 months to 2 years.

3 Exercises to Prevent and Treat Rotator Cuff Pain

One of the best things you can do to address rotator cuff pain is by stretching the muscles on a regular basis. Daily Stretching can help you avoid workout-related pain, improve your flexibility and range of motion, and help alleviate any rotator cuff discomfort you may be feeling.
In the video below, Airrosti’s Dr. Casey Crisp demonstrates three simple exercises you can do to minimize rotator cuff pain and help prevent future injuries.

Relieve Rotator Cuff Pain Fast with Airrosti

Rotator cuff pain can be difficult to tackle, especially when paired with reduced shoulder mobility. The inability to lift, pull, or rotate can leave you feeling frustrated, especially when it starts to interfere with your daily activities.
If you’ve tried other methods of pain relief and still struggle with rotator cuff pain, schedule an appointment with Airrosti. Our trained providers are experts at finding the root cause of your pain and fully resolving it — typically in as few as 3 visits, based on patient-reported outcomes — so you can quickly get back to enjoying life pain free.
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