The rotator cuff of the shoulder is named after a group of four muscles (supraspinatous, infraspinatous, teres minor, subscapularis) that surround the shoulder joint providing stability for any arm movement, including everyday or high intensity arm activity.
Risk of rotator cuff tears increase with aging, chronic poor shoulder posture, over head activities, and improper scapular motion. Some individuals will also have certain bone structure in the shoulder that will predispose them to rotator cuff injuries.
The most common site of tearing is the supraspinatous muscle (in the front of the shoulder). Depending on the severity and number of tears found, surgical repair may be recommended, but sometimes pain from a rotator cuff tear or strain can be completely managed by non-surgical measures with Physical Therapy.