What is a Rotator Cuff Tear?

A rotator cuff tear is a rupture of the tendons in the shoulder which are responsible for raising the arm. Though commonly associated with professional athletes, this condition can affect anyone, either as a result of trauma or simple wear and tear.


Rotator Cuff Tear Symptoms

What Does a Torn Rotator Cuff Feel Like?

Most patients with torn rotator cuffs gradually develop pain in the shoulder or upper arm — a pain that worsens when raising the arm overhead. Pain or difficulty sleeping at night are very common. Chronic, untreated tears gradually worsen with time, resulting in noticeable symptoms such as a persistent pain, a limited range of motion, and weakness when lifting the arm. In contrast, an acute tear will immediately cause severe pain and a feeling of total weakness in the affected arm.

Rotator Cuff Tear Test

How to Tell If You Have a Torn Rotator Cuff

If you're experiencing pain in your shoulder, some simple at-home tests can help you determine if you've torn your rotator cuff. Start by raising your arm, noting whether it hurts when it reaches over your head. You can then hold your arm out to shoulder level before slowly bringing it down. If it suddenly drops to your side, you may have a torn rotator cuff. Consider scheduling an appointment with an orthopedic specialist who can formally diagnose your condition after an X-ray or an MRI. 

How to Heal a Torn Rotator Cuff

A torn rotator cuff will not heal by itself, but minor tears can be treated with some combination of physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication. Surgery will be necessary to repair a full tear, however, and we generally advise that younger and more active patients pursue this option. Fortunately, a torn rotator cuff can be quickly repaired with a minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery, ensuring a quick and complete recovery.

If you are in pain from a torn rotator cuff, there are many treatment options available that can get you back on track in no time. Find out more here or book an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists here.


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