When a shoulder condition like a rotator cuff tear occurs, the pain can be significant. A tear can prevent you from enjoying the activities you love. TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine have assembled a team of nationally renowned surgeons and specialists who offer advanced treatment to help you get back to full mobility.
Your rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that help you lift and rotate your arm and hold the ball on the upper arm bone (the humerus) in the socket of the shoulder (the glenoid). These muscles cover the head of the humerus like a cuff.
Rotator Cuff Tear
A rotator cuff tear is either a partial or full tear of one or more tendons that attach the rotator cuff muscles to the humerus head.
Rotator cuff tear causes
Sometimes, age can be a contributing factor in the cause of a rotator cuff tear. The type of activities you participate in can also have an effect on the cause.
- Age-related degeneration occurring slowly over time (50 and older)
- Microtears that get progressively larger from muscle tendons rubbing on a bone spur
- Repetitive overhead use, like baseball pitchers
- Trauma—falling on your arm or lifting something too heavy
Rotator cuff tear symptoms
The most common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include:
- Cracking or popping sensation, called crepitus, when lifting your shoulder
- Immediate, intense pain
- Pain at rest and at night, particularly if lying on the affected shoulder
- Pain when lifting and lowering your arm from the side, or external rotation
- Weakness when lifting or rotating your arm
Rotator cuff tear treatment
Treatment depends on whether you have a partial or full rotator cuff tear. The goal is to relieve pain and restore function.
- Complete tears need minimally invasive arthroscopic or open surgery, usually to attach the tendon to the upper arm bone, followed by physical therapy.
- Partial tear treatment includes steroid injections and physical therapy. Rotator cuff tears of less that 50% can often heal without surgery.
Rotator cuff tear risk factors
Risk factors for rotator cuff tear include:
- Age—microtears that slowly enlarge
- Repetitive overhead use or heavy lifting
- Trauma such as falling on your arm or sudden impact
Rotator cuff tear prevention
You can take steps to minimize your risk for rotator cuff tears. To help prevent the chances of having a rotator cuff tear, you should:
- Avoid high-risk activities
- Exercise to maintain strength and motion
- Practice proper lifting techniques at work
- Warm up properly before playing sports or exercising
Make an appointment
To learn more about rotator cuff tears or make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist: Call TriHealth at 513 246 2300 or our orthopedic partner, Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, at 513 354 3700.