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Rotator Cuff Tear

The tendons in the shoulder joint responsible for motion and for support are the rotator cuff. When there is an injury to those tendons, it is referred to as a tear. This is a very common reason for shoulder pain and limited mobility. It tends to happen more for middle aged people and the elderly but it can affect anyone.



A rotator cuff tear happens as the result of repetitive movements where the arms are overhead. This can include work related tasks, heavy lifting, and sports activities. It can also be the result of a vehicle accident. A person with this type of injury is going to experience quite a bit of pain. The arm is going to be weak and there can be odd sounds when the shoulder is moved particular ways. The shoulder can become swollen and tender.


Rotator cuff tear causes severe pain, weakness of the arm, and crackling sensation on moving shoulder in certain positions. There may be stiffness, swelling, loss of movements, and tenderness in the front of the shoulder.


If you experience shoulder pain, seek medical attention right away to get to the core of the problem. An MRI is the most common test in order to see what is going on. If your doctor confirms you have a rotator cuff tear, they will recommend you rest and stop taking part in activities that can further aggravate it. You may be given medication to reduce inflammation and to reduce pain.

The shoulder is often put into a sling to reduce movement so it can rest and heal. You may be given exercises to complete at home that will help make the shoulder stronger. The goal of such exercises is also to improve your range of mobility. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, your next step may be to look at rotator cuff surgery.

Conservative Treatment Options

  • Rest
  • Shoulder sling
  • Pain medication Injection of a steroid (cortisone) and an Local anesthetic in the subacromial space of the affected shoulder to help decrease the inflammation and pain
  • Certain Exercises


The rotator cuff surgery is going to put the tendons back where they belong. They need to be in the correct position to reduce the pain and help with mobility. The procedure can be open surgery or arthroscopically performed. Since the healing is faster with arthroscopic, that is the most common procedure if the patient is a good candidate for it.

With open surgery, the incision is longer along the shoulder. The muscle has to be removed from the rotator cuff. With the arthroscopic method, only small incisions are made and a small camera is placed inside. The surgeon is able to view what the camera sees on a large screen Anchors are used to secure the tendons where they need to be on the shoulder bone.

It is very important to follow all of the instructions of your doctor so you can heal well after the rotator cuff repair surgery. You need to engage in psychical therapy to help make the shoulder stronger and to regain your range of motion. Make sure you keep the incisions clean and you follow up with your doctor for all scheduled appointments

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