Rotator Cuff Tears

Rotator Cuff Tears

Shoulder Condition

Rotator cuff tears​

One of the most common conditions in middle-aged people is shoulder pain. A frequent cause of that pain is a torn rotator cuff.

A torn rotator cuff will weaken your shoulder. This means that many daily activities, like combing your hair or getting dressed, may become painful and difficult to do.



The rotator cuff attaches the humerus to the shoulder blade and helps to lift and rotate your arm.

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that come together as tendons (Supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis) to form a covering around the head of the humerus. Your arm is kept in your shoulder socket by your rotator cuff.

In many cases, torn tendons begin by fraying. As the damage progresses, the tendon can completely tear, sometimes with lifting a heavy object.

There are different types of tears:

Partial tear. This type of tear damages the tendon, but does not completely sever it.

Full-thickness tear. This type separates all of the tendon from the bone. With a full-thickness tear, there is basically a hole in the tendon.


There are two main causes of rotator cuff tears: injury and degeneration.

Acute Tear

If you fall down on your outstretched arm or lift something too heavy with a jerking motion, you can tear your rotator cuff. This type of tear can occur with other shoulder injuries, such as a broken collarbone or dislocated shoulder.

Degenerative Tear

Most tears are the result of a wearing down of the tendon that occurs slowly over time. This degeneration naturally occurs as we age. Rotator cuff tears are more common in the dominant arm. It can get worse because of repetitive overuse of the shoulder.


The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and restore function.

When planning treatment, your doctor will consider your age, activity level, general health and type of tear.

– Non surgical treatment

Approximately 50% of patients achieve relief of their symptoms without surgery. Your doctor may begin treatment with non-surgical options.

 – Surgical treatment

For many people, surgery is the best treatment option.

If you are a very active person and use your arms for sports or jobs that involve repeated over the head arm movements, your doctor is likely to consider surgery. Surgery may be the right option for you for other reasons.

Duration of symptoms. If your symptoms have lasted more than 6 months, surgery is likely to be suggested.

Important tear. Tears that are larger than 3 centimeters are usually resolved with surgery.

Weakness. If the weakness of your shoulder prevents you from performing daily activities, surgery may be the best option.

Trauma. If your tear was caused by a fall or other accident, you are likely to have additional injuries. Surgery may be the most effective way to treat all those injuries.


Whether your treatment involves surgery or not, rehabilitation plays a vital role so you can resume your daily activities. A physical therapy program will help you strengthen and move your shoulder again.

Keep in mind that a full recovery takes several months. Although it is a slow process, your commitment to therapy is the most important factor in performing all the activities you enjoy again.