View navigation


Condition directory

Rotator cuff related shoulder pain


What is rotator cuff related shoulder pain?

Rotator cuff related shoulder pain is pain that comes from the rotator cuff tendons and associates structures in your shoulder.

The rotator cuff are a group of tendons and muscles around the shoulder. Their main job is to control the position of the ball in the socket. A normally functioning rotator cuff allows for good movement of the arm and strength when working overhead or away from the body.

Just like every other structure in your body, the health of the rotator cuff is influenced by age, lifestyle, usage, and genetics.

In people under the age of 50 the most likely reason for developing rotator cuff related shoulder pain relate to activity levels. this could be a sudden increase in activity because of 'one off' projects or activities, or overloading the tendons beyond their capabilities for a prolonged period of time. How tendons react to activity very much depends on how prepared they are for it.

people over the age of 50 are also likely to have some age related changes to the tendons which may be contributing to the symptoms. It's important to recognise that how we age isn't just dependent upon the passage of time, but on our lifestyle too. it's thought that taking regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking contribute to how well our musculoskeletal system ages.

What is the treatment for rotator cuff related shoulder pain?

Research shows that the most effective treatment for this problem is a combination of activity modification, and exercise therapy.

Activity modification aims to reduce further overloading of the shoulder tendons, giving them time to settle down. Activities which typically aggravate this problem include reaching outwards or overhead. Therefore, to reduce this overload, consider whether you could:

  • Temporarily reduce the amount of overhead work you do
  • Step towards things instead of reaching out for them
  • Use both hands to lift things rather than one

Everybody is different, and this needs to be specific to your own activities and your own symptoms. Generally, if something causes significant pain that does not settle quickly once you stop the activity, you should consider whether you could adapt or reduce this activity.

Exercise therapy aims to gradually increase the amount of load that your shoulder can tolerate.

Benefits of exercise therapy include:

  • Reduced pain
  • Improved range of movement
  • Improved muscle strength
  • Improved shoulder function


Below are some videos demonstrating exercises which are safe and appropriate to try in the early stages of your treatment.




If your symptoms fail to settle over a period of 8 weeks with these exercises you can refer yourself to see us here.

Quick Links

Rotator cuff downloadable/printable version

Accompanying Moon Group patient exercise pamphlet

(If you are a GP printing off for your patient please supply with both leaflets)