Do I Have a Rotator Cuff Tear?

Do I Have a Rotator Cuff Tear? hover background

May 06

Rotator Cuff Tear Symptoms and Causes

The rotator cuff is a large tendon comprised of four muscles that all combine to form a “cuff” over the upper end of the arm.  The rotator cuff helps to lift and rotate the arm and stabilize the ball of the shoulder within the joint.

Rotator Cuff Tear Symptoms

Rotator cuff symptoms tend to worsen as time goes on.  At first, symptoms may be relieved with rest, but eventually symptoms can become constant.  Common rotator tear cuff symptoms include:

  • Pain—rotator cuff tears can cause an aching pain in both the front of the shoulder and the outer side of the upper arm.
  • Weakness—the shoulder will be weak due to the detachment of the muscle from the bone, especially when lifting or with any overhead activity.
  • Lack of Mobility—some motions may be too painful.  Movements may pinch the tendon so that the shoulder is not able to rotate effectively to allow the arm to complete the action.  It may become difficult to place the arm behind your back.
  • Stiffness—your shoulder can feel stiff with lifting or any movement.
  • A clicking sound when raising the arm

Causes of a Rotator Cuff Tear

Some causes of a rotator cuff tear may include:

  • Keeping the arm in the same position for long periods of time
  • Sleeping on the same arm every night
  • Playing sports that require the arm to be moved repeatedly over the head such as tennis, baseball and swimming
  • Poor posture
  • Age
  • Working with the arm overhead for long periods of time such as painting or carpentry
  • Poor control of your shoulder and shoulder blade muscles

Treating a rotator cuff tear may include resting the shoulder, avoiding any activities that cause pain, ice packs and anti-inflammatory medication.

If you are suffering from a rotator cuff tear injury, please visit one of our physical therapists to receive specific exercises that will strengthen your rotator cuff and the muscles surrounding the shoulder, reduce pain and inflammation and help you to return to your daily activities.


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