Understanding Rotator Cuff Tears

A Rotator Cuff Tear is a common cause of shoulder pain among adults. Your rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles that come together as tendons and attach to your humerus, or arm bone, and keep it secure against the socket of your scapula (shoulder blade). The rotator cuff muscles aid in rotating and lifting your arm. When the rotator cuff becomes injured, you experience weakness and difficulty with certain shoulder motions.

A rotator cuff tear occurs when there is a rip in one of your four rotator cuff muscles. There are two types of rotator cuff tears:

1.Partial tear: A partial tear occurs when the rotator cuff tendon is damaged or frayed.

2.Full thickness or Complete tear: A complete tear occurs when the rotator cuff tendon is fully separated or torn from the humerus.


Rotator Cuff tears occur usually one of two ways:

      1. Degeneration: years of overuse or repetitive arm motion that causes normal wear and tear to the rotator cuff.
      2. Acute injury: Sudden heavy lifting or an accident such as falling on your shoulder can cause a rotator cuff tear.

 Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Tear:

If you have a rotator cuff tear, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

      • Shoulder weakness
      • Pain when lying on your shoulder or with certain motions
      • Difficulty lifting even light weight
      • Popping or cracking sensation when moving your arm


Treatment will vary for each person depending on the type and severity of the tear. Conservative treatment might include: rest, NSAIDs, physical therapy, or a steroid injection. Surgery for rotator cuff repair is another option. Surgery includes reattaching the rotator cuff tendon back to the humerus using an anchor. After surgery, you will need to go to physical therapy in order to restore your shoulder range of motion and strength to return to previous level of activity.

If you are experiencing any kind of shoulder pain or have been diagnosed with a Rotator Cuff Tear, contact us for a free consultation.  To request an appointment, click here, or call directly to one of our three locations during regular business hours:

Cool Springs: 615-224-9810
Shelbyville: 931-684-0027
Spring Hill: 931-489-2022

Disclaimer:  The information in this blog is intended to be informational only, and is not intended to be used in lieu of medical care.  Consult a doctor or a physical therapist before attempting treatment on your own.

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