Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that help keep the ball at the top of your upper-arm bone centered in your shoulder socket. It also helps you lift and rotate your arm.
When your rotator cuff tears -- either from a sudden injury or long-term wear-and-tear -- the pain and weakness can make it difficult to do simple tasks that involve reaching overhead, like washing your hair or putting away dishes. If nonsurgical treatments like medication and physical therapy don’t help, doctors can repair moderate tears surgically. Until recently, though, there were few options for repairing more severe rotator cuff tears. One option, called reverse shoulder replacement surgery, still requires you to limit your activities after surgery and may not last more than 10 to 15 years. As a result, orthopaedic surgeons typically recommend this option only if you’re older than 70 years and relatively inactive.