Many people consider a rotator cuff injury to be a sports injury. However, while it is true that athletic activities can contribute to shoulder injuries involving the rotator cuff, many of these injuries result from work activities. If you have a job-related rotator cuff tear, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation in Wisconsin.

Before you can understand what causes these types of injuries, you first need to understand what the rotator cuff is. The rotator cuff surrounds the shoulder joint and helps to hold together the socket of the shoulder blade and the ball of the upper arm bone. It consists of tendons and muscles that also aid in the movement of the shoulder. Trauma or stress on the muscles and/or tendons can cause rotator cuff injury.

Risk factors

You may be at greater risk for a rotator cuff injury if you work in certain professions. There tends to be a high incidence of rotator cuff injuries in people whose jobs require overhead motions or repeated lifting. Examples include carpenters and painters.

Your age may also put you at greater risk for rotator cuff injury if you are over 40. The risk tends to increase over time.


The cause of a rotator cuff injury may be either acute or chronic. Sudden trauma to the shoulder can cause muscles and tendons to tear. However, rotator cuff injuries may also happen over time. This occurs due to repetitive use that gradually wears down the tissues of the muscles and/or tendons.


It is important to get treatment as soon as you notice symptoms of a potential rotator cuff injury. Not only could this affect your workers’ compensation benefits, but prompt treatment can help prevent further damage.

Approximately 50% of the time, rotator cuff injuries improve with nonsurgical treatment involving physical therapy, ice, anti-inflammatories and/or rest. However, a severe injury may require surgery.