Rotator Cuff Tear

A torn rotator cuff is a common cause of shoulder pain and disability among adults. People with a rotator cuff tear may have a weakened shoulder, making daily activities, such as combing their hair or getting dressed, painful or challenging. When there are one or more torn rotator cuff tendons, the tendon becomes partially or completely detached from the upper arm bone (humerus). Injury and wear and tear are the two leading causes of rotator cuff tears. The most common symptoms of a torn rotator cuff are:

  • Pain at rest and at night, particularly if lying on the affected shoulder
  • Pain when lifting and lowering the arm or with specific movements
  • Weakness when lifting or rotating the arm
  • Having a crackling sensation when moving the shoulder in certain positions

A rotator cuff tear can get larger if left untreated. Nonsurgical treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medications, strengthening exercises, physical therapy and steroid injections, effectively relieve pain and improve shoulder function. However, pain that persists despite nonsurgical treatments is the main indication for surgery. Torn rotator cuff repair involves re-attaching the tendon to the head of the upper arm bone.