The rotator cuff is a band of four muscles and their tendons that span from the wing bone to the upper arm bone to form a “cuff” around the shoulder joint. When injured or torn from repetitive use or a traumatic injury, the rotator cuff can cause pain and limit the function of the arm. This is most common in adults over the age of 40, especially in individuals who do a significant amount of activities requiring overhead motion.
A rotator cuff tear is an injury to the rotator cuff caused by repetitive use or traumatic injury and causes pain and limits the function of the arm.
- Pain in upper arm and shoulder
- Loss of movement
- Night-time pain may affect sleep
- Weakness or limited strength
- Difficulty with tasks involving the shoulder
- Symptoms may be gradual or sudden, if resulting from an injury
The doctor may recommend limiting activities that involve overhead motion and resting the shoulder.
Anti-Inflammatory medications may reduce pain and inflammation associated with this injury.
A sling or other advanced support for the shoulder can reduce motion, allowing the shoulder to rest and begin the healing process.
Corticosteroid injections to the affected portion of the shoulder can provide short-term pain relief and reduce inflammation in the joint, when medication is ineffective or not an option.
Certified Physical Therapists work closely with doctors to create an individualized program to maximize healing and restore function, strength and mobility.
When conservative treatment fails, surgery may be recommended. The severity and location of the tear determines what type of surgery is needed, whether a debridement (trimming), open repair, mini-open repair, or arthroscopic repair. Open repair versus mini-open repair refers to the size of the incision, and arthroscopic repair includes a scope with a camera allowing surgeons to see inside the small incisions while performing the repair.