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The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in the shoulder that connect the humerus (upper arm) to the scapula (shoulder blade). The rotator cuff tendons provide stability to the shoulder, while the muscles allow the shoulder to rotate. Tears to the rotator cuff cause pain and affect the ability to lift the arm normally.
Rotator cuff tears are most common in people older than 40 years of age who have had shoulder problems in the past. For instance, lifting heavy objects may cause damage to the tendon. However, young people may also experience rotator cuff injuries due to long-term overuse or accidents.